Written Answer by Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng to PQ on Support for Elderly and Unskilled Workers at Risk of Being Replaced by Automation
NOTICE PAPER NO. 1725 OF 2023 FOR SITTING ON OR AFTER 23 FEBRUARY 2023
QUESTION NO. 4239 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Mr Yip Hon Weng
To ask the Minister for Manpower how will the Ministry support elderly and unskilled workers who are at risk of being replaced by automation.
1. Automation and other technological advancements will transform jobs to varying degrees. Simpler job tasks may be automated, leaving more complex tasks that will still require humans to perform. This creates opportunities to enlarge job scopes and create higher value jobs for our workers. To seize these opportunities, workers will need to be prepared. That is why the Ministry of Manpower, together with sector agencies, have launched Jobs Transformation Maps (JTMs). These JTMs, provide detailed insights on the impact of technology and automation on jobs in each sector so that employers and workers can take necessary steps to upskill for jobs of the future. Since 2019, we have launched 10 JTMs, and eight more are in development.
2. A recent example is the Food Manufacturing JTM launched by Enterprise Singapore in December 2022. The JTM identified that workers in job roles such as Production Operators would need to undergo reskilling, as manual tasks such as transporting food products could be automated by conveyor systems. The Operators would need to learn to perform more complex tasks such as machine troubleshooting.
3. The Government will support employers and workers who are prepared to upskill for such new or redesigned jobs. Workforce Singapore has been working closely with sector agencies and employers to mount Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs), which provide substantial salary support for employers to reskill their existing workers at-risk of redundancy, and redeploy them to new or redesigned job roles within the company. For lower-skilled, lower-wage workers, the Progressive Wage Model sets out wage and skill ladders for workers to upskill for larger job roles. Employers can tap on training support under the Workfare Skills Support Scheme to send lower-wage workers for Workforce Skills Qualifications or in-house training.
4. We will also support workers who want to consider new careers. Singaporeans can also tap on CCPs to switch careers. I know that this can be more challenging for mature workers, and hence the CCPs provide a higher tier of support to employers who hire mature workers aged 40 and above. In 2022, WSG supported close to 1,900 mature workers through CCPs. The SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme offers an attachment pathway to help mature workers to navigate a mid-career switch.
5. The Government has extended the Senior Employment Credit and Part-time Re-employment Grant. These schemes support the hiring of older workers and incentivise the provision of structured career planning, as well as part-time re-employment and other flexible work arrangements. Structured career planning will help employers map out future business needs and help their workers identify and develop the necessary skills to pivot with the company.
6. The Government will continue to work closely with our tripartite partners to support companies and workers in their transformation journey. Enterprise and workforce transformation are mutually reinforcing and should move in step. For example, I encourage companies to work with NTUC to set up Company Training Committees (CTC) and tap on the NTUC CTC grant to transform business processes, redesign jobs, and improve work prospects for their workers. Employers can also seek the assistance of the Singapore National Employers Federation, Singapore Business Federation, and other trade associations and chambers, to tap on programmes to reskill workers and redesign jobs.