Lim Swee Say: More support for Attach and Train Initiative, Mid-level PCP & mature PMETs

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The Government’s Attach and Train Initiative will serve participants with a training allowance of 50-70 percent of their salaries, with a maximum of S$4,000 a month. For mid-level PCP openings, the government would raise the salary support caps, and it will also help three groups of PMETs who have been unemployed for a longer duration.

The Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say gave this information in his Ministry’s Committee of Supply debate in Parliament, as he was giving details on how the government would enhance its Adapt and Grow initiative to support professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) expected to face skill, job, and wage mismatches in the current economy, including those who have been unemployed for a longer period of time.

Skills mismatch: New ‘Attach and Train’ program

Attach and Train was first announced in this year’s Budget, it is one of the Government’s strengthen support for workers in transition, under the Adapt and Grow initiative for PMETs and Rank-and-File workers in transition.

It is an initiative for sectors that have good growth prospects, but where companies may not be ready to hire yet. In such cases, industry partners can send participants for training and work attachments to increase the chances of the workers to find job in the sector later.

Mr Lim said the government’s Place and Train under the PCP has worked well to equip PMETs with new skills and ensuring that they can put these skills to use at their workplace. Under this program, trainees are employed by a particular company before they receive training to convert their skills for the new job.

But Mr Lim pointed out that PMETs now face a new bottleneck during this period of economic transition where the pace of hiring is slower despite the presence of a manpower demand. Due to the economic uncertainty, in some sectors, companies are freezing their hiring.

Mr Lim said, “Precious time is wasted if one has to wait for employers to begin hiring before conversion training begins.”

Hence the new ‘Attach and Train’ initiative, would help convert the skills of PMETs ahead of job placement, Mr Lim said.

Mr Lim asked industry leaders to be committed to help select and place the trainees and rally the support of their members. He said, "They (the industry leaders) must also be committed to jointly spearhead industry transformation and manpower development for their own sectors."

Employers are not required to employ participants once training is over but Mr Lim said to lower the risk of non-placement, trainees would be attached to specific companies. This would also allow trainees to familiarise themselves with their new jobs and workplace. He said the initiative will be introduced to sectors with promising growth.

The initiative will be started with the logistics sector, as this was one of the key growth areas identified by the report released by the Committee on the Future Economy recently. Other potential industries include the healthcare and biologics sector.

Job mismatch: Mid-level support

The government has launched 36 Professional Conversion Programs (PCP) in 2016 to help more than 1,000 PMETs switch careers and take on jobs in sectors with good growth.

However, he noted concerns raised by Members of Parliament that many of the jobs under the program were entry level positions, which is unsatisfactory for mature workers with dacade of job experience and skill. He said to encourage employers to offer more mid-level PCP openings, the government would raise the salary support caps from S$2,000 to S$4,000.

“With this change, mid-level jobs with a salary of up to S$5,700 could be supported,” Mr Lim said.

Wage mismatch: Support for mature PMETs

Mr Lim also gave details on the Career Support Program enhancements, which help three groups of PMETs who have been unemployed for a longer duration.

Employers who hire unemployed mature PMETs who have been actively job searching for a year or more would receive a higher wage support for a longer period of time - 18 months compared to the current 12 months, the Minister said. The government would help pay half of the worker’s wages for the first 6 months, 30 percent for the subsequent 6 months, and 20 percent for the last 6 months.

And for employers who hire PMETs aged 40 to 49 years who have either been made redundant or unemployed for six months, the government would double their wage support. This could be up to S$25,000 given to them.

Lastly, employers of PMETs below 40 years of age would receive wage supports of 20 percent for the first six months, and 10 percent for the next.

But Mr Lim said, in the end the success of the enhanced Adapt and Grow initiative is not in how much money the government puts in to help both job seekers and employers. “(It is on) how much our job seekers are prepared to adapt and grow, and how much our employers are prepared to be fair and inclusive,” he said.