MORE than 25,000 workers have benefited from a scheme which helps companies provide a more worker-friendly environment for older staff.

The Advantage! initiative has provided $57 million to help some 3,500 firms recruit and retain employees aged 40 and above since its launch in 2005, said Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor.

Close to half the funds - $24 million - went towards redesigning jobs to keep older workers employed and more productive.

On average, each company was given $16,000.

The Advantage! scheme is run by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, a statutory board under the Manpower Ministry.

Dr Khor was responding to Mr Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC), who asked for details on the amount of funding that companies have received through Advantage! and two funds that help businesses to introduce flexi-work arrangements - Work-Life Works! (WoW!) and Flexi-Works!

He also asked what the Manpower Ministry plans to do to get more companies to tap these programmes.

Dr Khor said the ministry will enhance the three schemes and that more details will be announced at the Committee of Supply debates next month.

She added that employers must also do their part to "create more progressive workplaces to attract and retain locals".

One beneficiary of the Advantage! scheme is voluntary welfare organisation St Luke's ElderCare, which provides day care and rehabilitation services for the aged. It used the funding of more than $120,000 to buy equipment such as motorised wheelchair lifters and back braces to prevent older staff from getting hurt and make their jobs less physically taxing.

Its chief operating officer, Dr Kenny Tan, said these measures have "translated to greater staff satisfaction and higher retention rates" among older workers.

Of its 156 staff members, close to 60 are Singaporeans aged 55 and above.

The Manpower Ministry told The Straits Times that the grants given under the Advantage! scheme ranged from $10,000 to $400,000, based on factors such as the number of workers who benefited.

Dr Khor also said that about 860 companies had received more than $15 million of funding through WoW!

Flexi-Works! has provided grants of more than $3.9 million to over 360 firms and helped more than 3,500 residents to find jobs with flexi-work arrangements.