Responding to MP Gan Thiam Poh’s question about the success rates of upskilling programmes in Singapore, Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say said 6,400 professionals, managers, executives & technicians (PMETs) have found jobs through the Adapt and Grow programme from Q1 to Q3 this year.
The Adapt and Grow initiative was launched earlier this year, and utilises the assistance of Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).
Speaking in Parliament, he said the number of Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) will be increased from 22 (covering 12 sectors) to more than 50 (covering almost all sectors) by the end of the year. This is expected to benefit more than 1,000 PMETs this year.
Mature PMETs who are made redundant are being helped with new jobs, using wage support for the first year of employment through the Career Support Programme (CSP). Out of 1,500 eligible PMETs who have registered with WSG and e2i, more than 200 have received such wage support since October 2015.
“We have also helped about 900 PMETs to secure jobs in SMEs under P-Max so far this year. We expect this number to exceed 1,000 by the end of the year,” added Minister Lim.
Question: Implementation of portable medical benefits for employees
MPs K Thanaletchimi and Ong Teng Koon raised the issue of the number of employers who have made the shift to portable medical benefits for employees.
Minister Lim first pointed out that with the introduction of MediShield Life in 2015, all Singaporeans now have portable medical insurance, as well as mandatory Medisave contributions.
That means, medical coverage, including for pre-existing illnesses, would follow them regardless of any change in employment status or employer. The annual claim limit has been raised significantly, and the lifetime claim limit has been removed.
At the company level, Minister Lim said more than 90% of employers provide additional medical benefits, of which some employers provide portable medical benefits on a voluntary basis.
“However, the take-up rate has not been high. Our last survey in 2013 showed that about 4% of companies employing about 20% of our local workers do so. These companies may enjoy higher tax deductions for their medical expenses if they meet the qualifying conditions,” he clarified.
Going forward, he encourages employers to shift from providing non-portable medical benefits, such as Group Hospital and Surgical (GHS) insurance, to making additional contributions to employees’ Medisave accounts.
Question: Industry information on recruitment plans of employers
Minister Lim was also asked if the Ministry regularly obtains industry information on recruitment plans of employers for future jobs, especially those involving time spans of three years and beyond, and if it can publish such information on a regular basis.
In his answer, the Minister pointed to the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs), being developed under the Committee on Skills, Innovation and Productivity chaired by DPM Tharman. These outline the key growth areas for each sector and the future profile of skills and jobs that Singaporeans can pursue.
He added: “The ITMs are also accompanied by their respective Skills Frameworks which outline specific career paths, occupations, salary range, skills requirements and training programmes available in each sector.”
To date, ITMs have been launched for retail, food services, and precision engineering. Skills Frameworks have also been launched for hotel and accommodation services, early childhood care and education, and precision engineering.
“More sectors are in the pipeline and the relevant career and employment information will be incorporated into our National Jobs Bank as and when it is published,” he said.
Question: Enforcement of the Workplace Safety and Health Act
MP Ang Hin Kee questioned the Minister for Manpower on efforts to publicise safe workplace practices or adequate provisions to ensure that independent contractors operating in their premises are protected from workplace incidents.
Citing the Workplace Safety and Health Act, Minister Lim said premise owners have to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure that their premises are safe for workers, including independent contractors. This includes conducting risk assessment to eliminate or mitigate any foreseeable risks before work activity can commence.
This responsibility extends to service buyers also in ensuring the safety and health of independent contractors. “For instance, service buyers are encouraged to adopt the bizSAFE programme, introduced by the WSH Council, to build in-house WSH capabilities in risk management. They can even go a step further to procure services only from bizSAFE certified contractors,” he said.
If independent contractors wish to take matters into their own hands, Minister Lim encouraged enrolling in safety and health courses by accredited training providers, or accessing the free WSH information and toolkits, customised to suit different industry trades, on the WSH Council website.
Photo / 123RF