Stepped-up efforts to retrain middle-aged workers for jobs of future

The Government will step up efforts to train middle-aged workers in their 40s and 50s with new skills to take on jobs of the future, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.

Speaking at a Chinese New Year lunch for residents of Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC, Mr Chan assured workers that the Government would help them stay employable amid concerns over geopolitical tensions and the Wuhan virus outbreak.

"Fear not if you are unable... So long as you are willing, we will have the resources. The Government will work with the unions, with the trade associations to reskill our people," he said.

Schemes like the Professional Conversion Programme to help professionals, managers, executives and technicians switch to new careers are already bearing fruit, he said.

"We are determined not to leave behind any of our middle-aged workers because they've got a good 10 to 15 years ahead of them. If any country can muster the resources to do this, Singapore must be one of them, and that is our promise," he said, adding that further announcements would be made soon.

He noted that geopolitical tensions were causing disruptions to the global economy - some exacerbated by the outbreak of the Wuhan virus - leading many workers to feel uncertain about their prospects. "The urgency for us to reskill our workers, for our businesses to find new markets, develop new business models has never been more urgent," he said.

He said the Government will expand the Scale-up SG programme launched last year that helps local firms grow and expand abroad.

More details will be released during the Budget speech on Feb 18.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2020, with the headline 'Stepped-up efforts to retrain middle-aged workers for jobs of future'. Print Edition | Subscribe