Singapore Budget 2020: $1,000 SkillsFuture Credit top-up for mid-career workers; more places in re-skilling programmes

The additional SkillsFuture Credit can be used from Oct 1 this year and will expire on Dec 31, 2025 in order to encourage people to take early action. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Mid-career workers in their 40s and 50s will receive $1,000 in SkillsFuture Credit this year to help this group of locals stay employable and move to new jobs or new roles.

This comprises a top-up of $500 that will be given to all Singaporeans aged 25 and older, and an additional top-up of $500 specifically for those aged 40 to 60 as at Dec 31 this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced this in the Budget speech on Tuesday (Feb 18) as one part of a new SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package.

He said the Government aims to double the annual job placement of locals in their 40s and 50s to around 5,500 by 2025.

The additional SkillsFuture Credit can be used from Oct 1 this year and will expire on Dec 31, 2025, in order to encourage people to take early action.

The funds for older workers can be used for about 200 career transition programmes offered by continuing education and training (CET) centres, such as the Workforce Skills Qualifications Certificate in Healthcare Support (Nursing Care), and the National Infocomm Competency Framework-Advanced Certificate in Infocomm Technology (Infrastructure).

The original $500 in SkillsFuture Credit that was provided in 2016 will continue to have no expiry if it has not been used.

Workers now in their 40s and 50s grew up in a time when the economy was just starting to take off, noted Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.

"When they started work, it was normal, even celebrated, to stay with one job, in one company, for life. As enterprises restructure, the nature of jobs has changed," he said.

Many people have adapted to these changes, picked up new skills and even switched careers. But some have not seen any job or career changes since leaving school, nor had the chance to upskill earlier, and are now facing greater competition from younger workers and workers overseas.

"I understand their anxiety," said Mr Heng.

"At the same time, with broader global shifts, exciting jobs will emerge. Our mid-career workers can seize these opportunities and do better for themselves and their families. The Government will do more to support them."

He said that there will be more places in reskilling schemes such as the professional conversion programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative, which helps workers move into growth industries.

Other schemes which will have greater capacity include career transition programmes delivered by CET centres like institutes of higher learning, and sector-specific programmes like the TechSkills Accelerator company-led training for infocomm technology jobs.

To encourage employers to step up and recruit, retain and retrain local mid-career workers, the Government will provide 20 per cent salary support to employers who hire local jobseekers aged 40 and above through professional conversion programmes, place-and-train programmes for rank-and-file workers, and career transition programmes by CET centres.

The hiring incentive will be given for six months and is capped at $6,000 in total. It does not apply to workers for whom employers are already claiming salary support under the Career Support Programme or P-Max scheme.

Finally, a group of volunteer career advisers from professional communities will be assembled to provide peer support and career guidance to local workers.

The Government will streamline its manpower schemes to maximise their impact, said Mr Heng.

"We hope that all these initiatives will provide meaningful support to those in their 40s and 50s to further their careers with confidence," he said.

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