Posted on 12 March 2020
Covid-19, and its effects on businesses, was the highlight of Budget 2020 and the subsequent parliamentary debate. Particularly affected were the tourism, aviation, retail, food services and point-to-point transport services, which have seen significant drops in business to the extent that companies such as SIA and DBS have instituted hiring freezes and asked senior management to accept wage decreases.
As these sectors now have “unplanned downtime”, the government wishes to encourage them to reskill and upgrade through the Adapt and Grow initiative. They will receive support through redeployment programmes to help employers retain and reskill their employees, and the funding period for reskilling in these sectors will be extended from three months to a maximum of six months.
What is Adapt and Grow?
The Adapt and Grow initiatives were originally introduced in 2016, with the aim of helping Singaporeans affected by economic slowdown and restructuring. They are administered by Workforce Singapore (WSG), and aim to help Singaporeans adapt to new career opportunities, grow career potentials, and step up their career search.
Their portfolio includes Professional Conversion Programmes, Career Trial and Career Support Programmes, which provide jobseekers and employers with employment support such as training and wage subsidies when they lack relevant experience for the role.
Enhancements to the Adapt and Grow Initiative
During Budget 2020, it was announced that sectors directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will get additional support. The enhancement to the Adapt and Grow Initiative was one such support measure.
Funding support duration for existing redeployment programmes will be extended from the current three months to a maximum of six months. These refer to the Job Redesign Place-and-Train (PnT) Programme for Hotel Industry, and the Job Redesign PnT Programme for Retail.
Additionally, WSG will introduce the following new time-limited programmes to support redeployment:
- Job Redesign PnT Programme for Food Services Industry
- Digital Marketing PnT Programme
- Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE), Attractions and Tour and Travel
- PCP for Digital Operations Talents for the Furniture Industry
- PnT Programme for Air Transport Coordinators
"Together with the Jobs Support Scheme, we will support employers in these sectors to retain and train more than 330,000 local workers," Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said during the Budget speech. "These workers can make full use of the downtime for training and upskilling to prepare for the recovery."
Together with the Jobs Support Scheme, this will support employers in these sectors retain and train more than 330,000 local workers.
Response and Analysis
Previously, Adapt and Grow was considered to have achieved its goal of helping those in need. Hence, the enhancements to Adapt and Grow indicate a commitment to not only retaining workers through the outbreak, but also utilising the opportunity to focus on upskilling and re-skilling them during this down time.
Previously, the measures to support businesses “going digital” were introduced, but business owners often faced more immediate challenges, which prevented them from devoting time and/or resources to such training and improvement.
Hence, the enhancements to Adapt and Grow give these sectors a boost for them to tackle the digital disruption already impacting businesses prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, so that employees may be upskilled and, where necessary, re-deployed to handle other jobs and new processes that arise from digitalisation.
Mr Patrick Tay, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general, also noted during a Heart of the Matter podcast that the initiative would help defray manpower costs as employers can send their workers for training, and thus apply for absentee payroll training subsidies.
References and Further InformationBudget Speech 2020
Budget Debate Round-Up Speech 2020
Singapore Budget 2020 Full Coverage by Singapore Business Review
Adapt and Grow
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