One-off SkillsFuture credit top-up for local workers
$500 extra for workers aged 40-60, firms get $10k to defray transformation costs
From October this year, all Singaporeans aged 25 and above will get a one-off SkillsFuture Credit top-up of $500, with those aged 40 to 60 getting an additional top-up of $500.
This is part of the Government's efforts to help workers, especially those in mid-career, acquire new skills in the face of major structural changes in the global economy.
While the $500 SkillsFuture credit given in January 2016 does not expire, the new top-ups must be used by the end of 2025. This is to encourage Singaporeans to take action early and to make best use of this period of economic slowdown, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget Speech yesterday.
Mr Heng said the SkillsFuture movement has made good progress since its launch in 2015.
The training participation rate rose from 35 per cent in 2015 to 49 per cent last year, and more than half a million Singaporeans have used their SkillsFuture Credit as of last year.
"With shorter technology cycles and more intense global competition, skills acquired when we are young need to be constantly refreshed," he said.
This is especially so for some local workers in their 40s and 50s, who did not have the chance to upskill and now face greater competition, both from younger workers and workers overseas, Mr Heng added.
A new SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package has been introduced with the aim of doubling the annual job placement of these locals to 5,500 by 2025.
The additional SkillsFuture Credit top-up is part of this package and can be used for about 200 selected programmes offered by continuing education and training centres.
The Government will also increase the capacity of reskilling programmes - such as the Professional Conversion Programme under the Adapt and Grow initiative.
Incentives will be given to employers who hire local job seekers aged 40 and above through one of these eligible reskilling programmes, with the Government providing 20 per cent salary support for six months, capped at $6,000.
Among the measures to help businesses transform, Mr Heng also announced a new SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit, which will give $10,000 a company to help cover 90 per cent of out-of-pocket expenses incurred for business transformation, job redesign and skills training.
This will benefit almost 40,000 companies, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises. The Government will recalibrate its funding towards training providers and courses that have stronger links to job and wage outcomes.
Said Mr Heng: "Enterprises know best the skills needed for their businesses to transform.
"By investing in their staff, they build a stronger workforce, which can in turn help enterprises succeed."