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SINGAPORE — At his delivery of the Budget 2023, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced the creation of a new entity, known as jobs-skills integrators, to aid employers in better training and placing workers within their respective industries.

These integrators will act as “labour market intermediaries” and work closely with industry, training and employment facilitation partners to optimise job placements and training programmes.

Mr Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, outlined the responsibilities of these integrators, including engaging with enterprises to understand the manpower and skill gaps within the industry. The integrators will also have to collaborate with training providers to update or develop training programmes that can effectively close these skill gaps.

The labour market intermediaries will have to work closely with employment facilitation agencies and get buy-in from industry partners and unions. Most importantly, the new entity must ensure that training translates into better employment and earnings prospects, said Mr Wong.

The jobs-skills integrators will be initially piloted in sectors such as precision engineering, retail, and wholesale trade. These sectors are said to have a higher concentration of mature workers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Further details will be shared at the Ministry of Education’s upcoming Committee of Supply (COS) debate.

To support senior workers who wish to continue working, the Senior Employment Credit will be extended till 2025, providing wage offsets to employers who hire employees aged 55 and above. During this period, employers received up to 8 per cent of the wages paid to Singaporean workers aged 55 and above, depending on the worker’s age and wage.

The wage offset applies to workers earning below S$4,000 per month, with more support given to employers for higher age bands. The Part-time Re-employment Grant will also be extended until 2025 to encourage employers to offer flexible work arrangements and structured career planning to senior workers.

The Government will also maintain its increased co-funding share for the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS) to continue supporting lower-wage employees. The PWCS was introduced in last year’s Budget and aimed to provide transitional support from 2022 to 2026 for employers to adjust to the Progressive Wage moves.

To support employers in hiring people with disabilities, the Government will enhance the Enabling Employment Credit to cover a larger proportion of wages and a more extended duration for these workers who have not been working for at least six months. The employer gets 20 per cent of each eligible employee’s monthly income, capped at a maximum of S$400 per month per employee.

There is no cap on the total number of eligible employees. Employers receive an additional 10 per cent wage offset, capped at S$200 per month per employee, for the first six months of employment, if they hire a person with disability for a job paying less than S$4,000 per month and if this worker has not been working for the past six months before being hired.

“We know many persons with disabilities want to work, and if given the chance, have valuable skills to offer. As a society, we should give them the opportunity to do so,” said Mr Wong.

Firms can also look forward to a “time-limited” wage offset if they employ ex-offenders. More details on this new Uplifting Employment Credit will be shared at the Ministry of Manpower’s upcoming COS debate. The outcomes of this scheme will be reviewed in 2025.

The Singapore government’s announcement aims to create more job opportunities and encourage employers to support certain demographics in the workforce. The implementation of jobs-skills integrators will be a significant step towards optimising job placements and better training in Singapore’s industries.

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