Companies tap Covid-19 skills upgrading scheme more than 60,000 times

A SCHEME to encourage staff training during the Covid-19 pandemic has been taken up more than 60,000 times since its unveiled in the Unity Budget in February.

Employees from nearly 800 companies have taken up those training places under the Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP), Senior Minister of State for Education Chee Hong Tat disclosed at a virtual conference about jobs on Thursday.

The figures are accurate as at June 19, although the number of workers who took part may be lower, given that a single employee can go for training under the programme more than once.

The ETSP, which was part of the Unity Budget’s S$4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package, gives all employers absentee payroll support at 90 per cent of workers’ hourly basic salary - capped at S$10 an hour - as a form of cash flow relief when employees are sent for training.

Extra help is available for sectors deemed to be severely affected by the pandemic: tourism, retail, food services, aviation, land transport and arts and culture. Companies in these industries can get funding for up to 90 per cent of their employees’ course fees.

Mr Chee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said that workforce development is key to ensuring that Singapore can “compete for and capture its share of new investments and jobs” when supply chains and production shift amid global events.

“I encourage more enterprises to come on board, and tap this scheme to support your wage costs and train your workers,” he added, referring to the ETSP.

The support package got a boost in March’s Resilience Budget, to cover courses with start dates of up until Jan 1, 2021 - up from an original three-month period.

Mr Chee was speaking at the two-day National & Job Security Conference 2020, organised by  continuing education and training centre Human Capital (Singapore). Singapore Press Holdings, which publishes The Business Times, is a supporting media partner for the event.