Older professionals diving into a new industry will have more funding during training, as the Government recognises the growing number of people making mid-career switches.
Companies that hire and train these workers under the Singapore Workforce Development Agency's (WDA) professional conversion programmes will get more help footing the salary bill. Up to 90 per cent, capped at $4,000, of the employees' monthly salaries will be paid by the Government for the duration of the training.
This applies to professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) aged 40 and above, or who have been jobless for more than six months. Others will still be eligible for the existing funding of up to 70 per cent, capped at $2,000.
"With enhanced funding support, employers would be able to pay salaries which are commensurate with mid-career PMEs' experience and skills," said Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health Amy Khor, who announced the changes yesterday.
This should help workers "take the plunge" and get jobs in new industries when jobs are lost due to restructuring, Dr Khor told reporters after an event at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar.
The extra funding is available in five sectors such as infocomm technology and social work. But the authorities are "actively working on" identifying other industries, she added. The changes are targeted at mature workers and those facing long-term unemployment as these groups are more vulnerable to redundancy and face challenges in getting a new job.
Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan said the move could help equip the workforce with skills more relevant to the economy's needs. "Companies can also relook their training strategy since the cost for them to invest in the workforce is now getting minimal," he said.
To further help PMEs find upgrading courses and do career planning, an online resource portal - www.CareerResource.sg - was also launched yesterday.
Dr Khor said that with the enhanced funding, some 8,000 PMEs should be able to benefit from professional conversion programmes over the next six years.
So far, 6,100 people have been trained under the programmes from 2007 to last year.
One of them is Ms Seet Chia Puay, 33, a pre-school teacher at Agape Little Uni @ Orange Grove. She made the move two years ago after working in audit and finance for 10 years, as she felt her career was stagnating and she wanted more family time with her two young daughters.
Over 15 months, she spent half her working day at work and the other half in training, which allowed her to put new knowledge into practice straight away.
"We could also share our day- to-day problems with the lecturer, which was a great help for novice teachers like us," she said, adding that she is pursuing a diploma which will qualify her to be a pre- school principal.
Mr Ng Wee Lee, owner of Agape Little Uni @ Orange Grove, said the place-and-train programme is a boon for employers as it widens the pool of workers who will have early childhood education qualifications.
"The programme attracts people to the industry, and the funding makes us more willing to give new hires a chance," he said.