To protect the jobs of employees and defray businesses expenses in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, support package and enhanced training will be provided for firms in Singapore’s air transport sector.

To prepare for the business demand recovering, more than 8,000 employees in the sector are to benefit from the funding support given to affected firms which will cover worker salaries as well as course fees for reskilling and retraining those workers.

The support package and enhanced training measure were introduced on Monday (2 March), which is part of the parent initiative the Stabilisation and Support Package announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat at the budget unveiling.

This measure is the result of collaboration and partnership with the nine unions in the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG). The nine unions had been pouring efforts to identify areas of training in the air transport sector before the outbreak occurred.

Under the SSG support, 90 per cent of course fees up from a baseline rate of 50 per cent will be covered by the enhanced course fee support. Also, 90 per cent of hourly basic salary limited at S$10 per hour will be covered by the enhanced absentee payroll support. If firms send their workers for selected sector-specific training programmes, they will be eligible for the funding support.

Under the new Place-and-Train programme introduced by WSG, air transport coordinators will equip employees for newly created, redesigned and enhanced roles whereas employers will obtain up to six months’ salary support to reskill rank-and-file employees with new competencies.

In addition to this, an extra S$500,000 will be offered by NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to assist unionised companies in the aviation sector to send their employees for training. If the demand for such training is high among firms, e2i will increase funding support.

According to Kevin Shum, the director-general of CAAS, “the aviation industry has been significantly affected by Covid-19 and our partners are understandably very concerned about the impact on business and jobs… At the same time, there is an opportunity for the industry to upskill workers and be better prepared to benefit when recovery occurs. CAAS is working closely with key employers to understand the challenges they face.”

Echoing the same sentiment, the chairman of the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster, Ong Hwee Liang remarked that “our aviation companies must take advantage of this training support so that they can manage excess manpower and be able to save jobs. We must also take advantage of this opportunity to deepen workers’ skills. The measures in the support package will help to bolster these efforts.”

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