Oral Answer by Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State (Health and Manpower), to Parliamentary Questions on ADVANTAGE!, FlexiWorks! and Work-Life-Works! (WoW!) Schemes
Notice Paper No. 78 of 2013 for the Sitting on 25 Feb 2013 Question No. 1043/1044 For Oral Answer
MP: Mr Chen Show Mao
1043. To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower (a) since the introduction of the ADVANTAGE! Scheme (i) how much has been disbursed annually; (ii) what is the average payout per company; and (iii) what is the amount that went towards job, work process and workplace re-design; (b) whether the Ministry will consider extending this scheme beyond March 2013 and, if so, what will the Ministry do to improve the uptake beyond the companies that have tapped on this scheme since its introduction.
1044. To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower (a) since the introduction of the FlexiWorks! and Work-Life-Works! (WoW!) schemes (i) how much has been disbursed annually under each scheme; and (ii) what is the average payout per company; (b) whether the Ministry will consider extending and enhancing these schemes and, if so, what will the Ministry do to improve the number of companies that offer at least one form of work-life arrangement
- The Government has put in place various policies and programmes over the years, aimed at providing more job opportunities for locals and encourage locals to work. The ADVANTAGE! scheme, Flexi-Works! scheme and the Work-Life Works! (WoW!) Fund forms part of these programmes, and are targeted at supporting the employment of older workers and economically inactives, as well as improving work-life harmony for all workers. We have worked closely with our tripartite partners to administer these programmes, which have allowed us to have better outreach and adoption.
- The ADVANTAGE! Scheme was introduced in 2005 to help companies recruit, retain and re-employ mature workers aged 40 and above. The scheme offers funding support for companies to enhance the employability of mature workers through training support as well as job and workplace redesign. Over the years, the scheme has also helped companies, especially SMEs, to be ready to implement re-employment.
- Close to $57 million has been disbursed under the scheme since its inception, benefiting around 3,500 companies. This works out to an average of about $16,000 per company. In particular, $24 million went towards supporting companies in their job redesign efforts, which improved the employability and productivity of mature workers. Overall, the ADVANTAGE! scheme has benefited more than 25,000 mature workers.
- The Flexi-Works! scheme was introduced in 2007 to help companies recruit economically inactive residents who want to re-enter the workforce, by supporting the costs of implementing flexible work arrangements. In total, more than $3.9 million has been disbursed, benefitting over 360 companies and placing over 3,500 residents into jobs with flexible work arrangements. On average, each company received funding support of about $11,000.
- Another scheme which helps employers improve work-life harmony is the WoW! Fund. Since its introduction in 2004, over $15 million has been disbursed in total, or about $1.9 million annually on average. To date, about 860 companies have benefitted from the WoW! Fund. This works out to an average funding support of around $19,000 per company.
- Through these schemes and our tripartite approach to employers, we have made progress in promoting flexible work arrangements, and supporting the employment of mature workers and economically inactive residents. In 2012, 41% of establishments offered at least one form of flexible work arrangements to their employees, up from 25% in 2007.
- Nevertheless, more can be done and we will continue to encourage better working environments and more progressive workplace practices, as well as support employment for locals. We have, and will, continue to work closely with our tripartite partners to collect feedback on ways to improve these schemes. We will be enhancing these schemes and more details will be announced at the Committee of Supply debates in March as part of our overall efforts to help employers and workers cope with an ageing workforce and the tight labour market.
- Together with ADVANTAGE!, Flexi-Works! and WoW! Fund, the Special Employment Credit (SEC) scheme and Workfare programme encourage local workers to return and remain in the workforce, including the more vulnerable groups of the population. The support that we provide is not restricted to financial assistance alone. Our WDA career centres and tripartite partners also offer guidance and counselling workshops to help jobseekers overcome the social and psychological barriers to employment.
- While we have put in place these various measures, employers also have an important role to play to create more progressive workplaces to attract and retain locals. We hope that employers will take advantage of the Government’s support and play a key role in supporting local employment.