SBF has acknowledged the concerns of employers that have paid out the allowances to trainees but have yet to receive reimbursement. Going forward, payouts will be processed within four weeks if all supporting documentation is in order.
Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has provided several responses to queries raised in Parliament, touching on topics such as youth mental wellbeing, SGUnited funding for employers, workplace accidents, and more. We've compiled the key themes relevant for HR and employers below.
Payout of SGUnited funding support to employers
Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo responded to MP Hazel Poa on the payout of SGUnited funding support to employers, sharing that since the rollout of SGUnited Traineeships (SGUT) and SGUnited Mid Career Pathways (SGUP) last year, there have been more than 8,600 trainees hosted by over 2,400 organisations as of 1 March 2021. Each of the host organisations submit monthly claims for co-funding of the training allowances.
Correspondingly, Singapore Business Federation (SBF), the programme partner for SGUT and SGUP, has received around 27,000 claims, of which 60% has been processed and the payouts disbursed to the host organisations as of 1 April 2021. About 20% are pending clarifications from the host organisations due to incomplete or incorrect information. The remaining 20% are still being processed by SBF.
To speed up processing of claims, SBF has put place a dedicated team of more than 40 staff, of which about one-third support claims processing. In addition, SBF launched a new claims portal in January this year, which makes it easier for host organisations to submit and track their claims.
For pending claims (submitted with complete documentation) in March 2021 or earlier, SBF is working towards disbursing the payouts before the end of April 2021.
She noted: "SBF has acknowledged the concerns of host organisations that have paid out the allowances to trainees but have yet to receive reimbursement. Going forward, it aims to process claims and disburse the payouts within four weeks if all supporting documentation is in order."
Career transition support for those in jobs related to fight against COVID-19
MP Liang Eng Hwa asked about the number of jobs related to the fight against COVID-19 and plans to transit these workers into longer term jobs when these positions are no longer needed.
To this Minister Teo shared that of the 93,000 placements under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package to support local jobseekers affected by COVID-19, about 12,000 placements involved short-term jobs related to the fight against COVID-19, such as swabbing or quarantine operations, implementing safe management measures, and providing patient services.
Among those placed into short-term COVID-19 job roles, more than one in four are persons are temporarily redeployed from hard-hit sectors. For example, flight attendants from Singapore Airlines have been deployed as care ambassadors in hospitals. These workers remain employees of their parent companies, in sectors such as aviation and hospitality where demand remains low.
"We expect that they will return to their parent companies subsequently when demand recovers, and their skills and experience are again needed," Minister Teo explained.
For the other workers in temporary positions, they will be supported to find permanent jobs after they complete their stints, using the extended and enhanced Jobs Growth Incentive as well as career conversion programmes. WSG will also introduce new programmes for in-demand jobs in growing sectors such as manufacturing, ICT and professional services.
Rise of mental health issues among Singaporean youth
Responding to MP Seah Kian Peng, on measures to tackle the rise of mental health issues among Singaporean youth, Minister Teo talked about the launch of Youthopia by National Youth Council (NYC) in October 2020, a digital destination for youth to keep up with trends and connect with fellow youngsters on issues that matter to them. It includes access to GradGoWhere, a toolkit with career-related resources, as well as the Mental Wellbeing toolkit which includes assessment tools and support helplines.
Another initiative is the Youth Mental Wellbeing (YMWB) Network supported by MSF, MOH and MOE. It was set up in February 2020 to generate ideas and implement ground-up projects to support youth mental well-being, such as strengthening peer support in workplaces.
Beyond supporting younger workers specifically, MOM encourages employers to sign up for iWorkHealth, an online workplace psychosocial health assessment tool to find out their employees’ overall state of mental wellbeing and the stress factors at work. The company report provides a breakdown of the mental wellbeing scores by age group, as long as there are at least eight responses in that age category.
Finally, the Tripartite Advisory (TA) on Mental Wellbeing for Workplaces, launched last year, recommends what employers can do to support their employees’ mental wellbeing. For instance, employers can gain access to free mental wellbeing talks under the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council’s Total WSH Programme and tap on Health Promotion Board’s Workplace Outreach Wellness (WOW) Package which promotes workplace health programmes, including mental health workshops based on companies’ readiness and their employees’ needs.
She pointed out: "While these initiatives are in place to support workers’ mental wellbeing in the workplace, they can only complement individuals’ own efforts to take care of their mental wellbeing, stay active, connected with friends and family, and seek help when required."
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