THE government is setting aside an extra S$8.9 million over the next two years to ensure that all local cleaners in Singapore can be properly trained under the new rules governing the cleaning industry.
This additional funding is meant to help companies keep a lid on their training costs.
The sum comes on top of the S$9.8 million already committed from 2012 to 2014 for training cleaners under the Environmental Cleaning Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) training modules.
News of the extra funding came on Monday, when the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced that it had issued licences to 1,001 companies since the mandatory licensing regime for cleaning businesses took effect in April.
These firms employ a total of 52,000 cleaners, of which 38,000 are resident cleaners, it said. More than 26,000 in the resident group are now being paid wages according to the Progressive Wage Model (PWM).
All cleaners deployed under cleaning contracts starting from April 1 this year must be paid according to the PWM, in a move to ensure that they receive salaries commensurate with their skills, training and productivity. All licensed companies must pay progressive wages to their resident cleaners, including those under existing cleaning contracts, by Sept 1 next year.
In a statement, NEA said 33,000 cleaners from licensed companies out of the total of 52,000 cleaners have been trained. When these firms renew their licences in future, they will have to ensure that all their cleaners have undergone training.
The Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) said that cleaning companies can choose from among flexible on-site training and short courses designed to minimise disruptions to their operations.
Employers can also tap WDA's course-fee support programme to train local cleaners in Environmental Cleaning WSQ, so as to boost the overall standards and skills of the cleaning industry.
Derek Ho, the director-general of NEA's public health division, said that having companies that support the licensing of cleaning companies would eventually translate to "better performing workers and more satisfied service buyers" through enhanced service quality and higher standards.
The majority of the companies in Singapore's cleaning sector are small businesses that hire no more than 50 cleaners.