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Government Commits $600 Million to Spur Employers and Workers to Raise Manpower Capabilities

To help companies and workers manage the economic downturn and build stronger manpower capabilities for the recovery, Acting Minister for Manpower Gan Kim Yong, together with Secretary-General Lim Swee Say of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Mr Stephen Lee, President of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), announced details of a new tripartite programme - the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR).

2.   Mr Gan said, "SPUR is a decisive and timely move by the tripartite partners to address the manpower challenges as we move into a challenging economic environment. The high-quality national continuing education and training (CET) infrastructure we developed in recent years will serve as the foundation for employers and workers to invest in skills upgrading, improve the competitiveness of our workforce and strengthen the resilience of our economy."

3.   Both employers and workers can benefit from SPUR. Employers can tap on SPUR to reduce their manpower costs while saving jobs by sending their workers for training. SPUR will provide higher course fee subsidies and higher absentee payroll for their local workers' training at CET Centres. It will also support local workers, including retrenched and unemployed workers, in re-skilling and up-skilling so that they can upgrade themselves or convert to new jobs. The Government will provide funding of $600 million over 2 years for SPUR (see Annex A for factsheet on SPUR).

Enhanced Funding, Places and Pathways with SPUR

4.   From 1 December 2008, employers and workers will benefit from higher CET capacity, enhanced funding support for their training, and a comprehensive suite of structured skills training pathways across different industries.

5.   Higher CET Capacity: The number of training places in the CET Centres will double from 110,000 in FY08 to 220,000 in FY09. There are currently 42 CET Centres island-wide, spanning a range of industries, from aerospace to precision engineering, from landscaping to security, and from tourism and retail to finance and digital animation (see Annex B for list of CET Centres).

6.   Increased Funding: Funding support for training will be enhanced substantially for local workers. The course fee subsidy for Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) and other nationally certifiable courses at CET Centres will be raised from 80%-90% currently to 90% for all rank-and-file level courses, and from the 70% currently to 80% for PMET-level courses. Both employers and workers (whether employed or unemployed) can sign up directly for the subsidised training courses. The caps for the Absentee payroll for these courses at CET centres will also be increased by 50% from $4/hour for workers aged below 40 and $4.50 for workers aged 40 and above with "A" level qualifications and below, to $6/hour and $6.80 respectively. These changes to the course fee subsidy and absentee payroll will take effect from 1 Dec 08. Unemployed lower-skilled Singaporeans may also be eligible for training allowances as assessed by the career centres at the Community Development Councils (CDCs) and NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

7.   Comprehensive and Structured Training Pathways. Both rank-and-file workers and PMETs can benefit from more than 60 skills training pathways, which will provide them with specific workplace skills required by industry and employers (see Annex C and Annex D for list of pathways).

Tripartite and Community Support for SPUR

8.   MOM and WDA will work in close partnership with SNEF, NTUC e2i and the CDCs to reach out to employers and workers, to encourage them to tap on SPUR. Employers can contact SNEF while workers can approach NTUC's e2i, the career centres at the CDCs, or the CET Centres directly.

9.   NTUC will implement SPUR@e2i, which will reach out to both workers and unionised companies. It aims to benefit over 50,000 workers over the next 2 years through a range of initiatives targeted at helping workers move into, move across, move up and move between jobs and sectors. Initiatives for workers include helping workers upgrade their skills through the CET Centres, providing workers with career services and helping retrenched workers transit into new jobs. SPUR@e2i will also work with companies to implement job redesign programmes to help cut costs and save jobs. In addition, e2i will work towards investing in capabilities for the future, by facilitating industry-wide upgrading initiatives. Together with SPRING, e2i will reach out to more than 3,000 companies through its Customer Centric Initiative (CCI) to upgrade their capabilities in preparation for the upturn. 

10.   SNEF will support SPUR, with outreach efforts to employers via seminars and industry group meetings to help members manage the downturn. SPUR@SNEF will also support the development of HR capabilities among employers by implementing training frameworks and providing HR Advisory and Consultancy services as well as training to equip HR managers with skills relevant to manpower management in a downturn e.g. wage management, re-deployment, change management etc. It will also support the training of workers via training courses in various soft skills such as service skills.  It aims to benefit 20,000 workers and 2,000 employers over the next two years.

11.   Together, SPUR@e2i and SPUR@SNEF will be supported by $50 million over 2 years and help workers and companies access more than $150 million of funding provided under SPUR.

12.   Mr Lim Swee Say, Secretary-General of NTUC, said, "The world economy is slowing down fast. Demands have declined, resulting in more companies and factories having excess manpower. We should help companies to save costs so as to save jobs for our workers. We should also help companies to build new capabilities and workers to learn new skills. By turning our excess manpower into investment in skills, productivity and service quality, we can survive the downturn better and grow with the upturn faster."

13.   Commenting on the additional support for businesses, Mr Stephen Lee, President of SNEF, said "SPUR is a tripartite effort. SNEF will work closely with our tripartite partners MOM and the NTUC to implement the proposed measures. Over the next 5 weeks we will be briefing over 2,000 employers on the new measures. We strongly encourage employers to make use of the training opportunities created to retrain and upskill their employees during this lull period. At the same time, employers should manage their excess manpower in a way that helps both the company and their employees to ride through the downturn. This will also put the company in a much stronger position when the economy recovers."

More Information 

14.   For more information, please go to WDA or call 6883 5885.