IBM, Shopee among firms offering training courses for mid-career job seekers

[SINGAPORE] Mid-career jobseekers can now apply for training courses offered by firms in in-demand sectors to help boost their employability.

They will receive a monthly allowance of S$1,500 while undergoing the course.

IBM, Shopee and PBA Robotics are among the companies that will be kicking off the first batch of courses next month.

These courses are one of two components of the earlier announced SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme, which will provide 14,500 traineeships and training programmes for job seekers to gain industry-relevant work experience while awaiting permanent employment.

Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat told the media on Saturday that while more business closures and retrenchments are expected due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, there are also sectors that are expected to grow, such as healthcare and e-commerce.

"While we cannot save every company, we have to help every worker to transit to these new jobs. Some of them may require training to bridge the skills gap," Mr Chee told reporters during a visit to a jobs and skills kiosk at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Eunos.

Mid-career workers require special focus as they have greater financial commitments and had already been grappling with the changing skill sets required by firms before the current crisis, he added.

About 3,600 full-time training opportunities have been created in partnership with companies thus far, and the goal is to raise this to 10,000 by the end of the year, Mr Chee said, providing more details on the scheme.

Under the programme, unemployed workers can apply for either an attachment with a company or a full-time training course that ranges from six to 12 months in duration.

The training courses will cover sectors that can provide job opportunities as the economy recovers, such as information and communications technology (ICT) and manufacturing.

Bosch, Google, Nvidia and Siemens round up the list of firms that will kick off their courses next month, which may include on-the-job training opportunities. They will be conducted in a modular format so that participants can exit the programme if they find a job.

The subsidised fees for the courses range from S$500 to S$1,000, and can be paid for using SkillsFuture credits. Participants will receive a monthly training allowance of S$1,500, as well as career advisory assistance.

The training courses are open to Singaporeans and permanent residents with two or more years of working experience.

The other component of the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme is traineeships. Those who opt for work attachments over training courses will receive an allowance of up to S$3,000 a month, of which 80 per cent will be paid by the government and 20 per cent by the organisation they are attached to. More details on traineeships will be announced later.

The programme for mid-career workers is part of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, which aims to create some 100,000 jobs, traineeship positions and skills training opportunities for Singaporeans this year amid the downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a national broadcast last month that middle-aged and mature Singaporeans would be a key focus of the government's support schemes for workers, as 60 per cent of Singapore's workforce is aged 40 and above.

These include an additional SkillsFuture Credit top-up of S$500 for Singaporeans aged 40 to 60 this year and additional hiring incentives for employers that hire locals aged 40 and up.

Alex Ng, 47, who was at the jobs and skills event hosted by SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore on Saturday, told The Straits Times that he was eyeing the courses on offer by Google and other firms in the ICT industry.

Mr Ng, who worked in IT sales for a multinational corporation for 13 years, was retrenched about a month ago, though to him it has felt like "an eternity".

He said he hopes to pick up new skills during this period that will help him in his job search, such as those related to cloud technology.

"Some of my soft skills I can bring over, but for some areas in ICT they want hard skills," he said.

The S$1,500 training allowance will help with monthly expenses as the retrenchment payout he received amounted to just one month's salary, Mr Ng said.

While finding new employment with a comparable salary may not be easy, Mr Ng said he remains optimistic about his future prospects.

"If I really needed to, I could become a Grab driver or find part-time work. There are jobs, it's a matter of whether you're willing to take it," he said.

More information on the training courses can be found here.

THE STRAITS TIMES