After Ms Sim Lay Koon quit her job as a finance manager, her hunt for work took longer than expected.

The 54-year-old spent about a year applying for jobs online and upgrading her skills by studying for a qualification from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

She finally landed a job last year at consultancy firm Bridge 2 Biz Consulting, where she is now a senior associate. The firm hired her through the Career Support Programme, which helps unemployed professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) find mid-level jobs and subsidises their wages.

Although Ms Sim's job scope has changed from a reporting role to one in which she has to do accounting entries, she likes the challenge of learning new skills.

"I find the experience enjoyable, because I am given an opportunity to learn as well as to contribute."

Ms Sim's story was highlighted by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say yesterday, when he announced changes to the Career Support Programme to give more help to long-term jobless PMETs.

Bridge 2 Biz managing director Henry Ong said the scheme helps to defray the wages of older workers while they are learning the ropes.

"Staff in their 50s have very good experience, but when it comes to new technology, they need a little more time to pick it up," he said.

Skills they have to learn include how to use accounting software.

Mr Ong said the firm benefits from the life view and values that Ms Sim brings to the table, which can be different from her younger colleagues'. "Even the way she handles difficult clients is something they can learn," he added.