Tuesday 9 April 2013

WorkPro: 14 firms join $170 million scheme to get Singaporeans back to work

By Royston Sim, The Straits Times, 8 Apr 2013

FOURTEEN companies have signed up for a new programme launched last week to encourage Singaporeans to rejoin the workforce.

The companies include the Singapore Recreation Club, printing firm Unique Press and education centre Cerebral.

The programme, called WorkPro, will provide $170 million in funding for employers over the next three years.

Speaking yesterday at an event aimed at getting women back to the workforce, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin urged more employers to tap the various forms of support that WorkPro provides.

Minister of State for Manpower, Dr Amy Khor, also speaking at the event, said many women leave the workforce to take care of their family but may want to return to work when their children are older or if there are flexi-work arrangements.

Companies can tap WorkPro, first announced last month, to fund initiatives such as job redesign, on-the-job training and flexible work arrangements.

At the Singapore Recreation Club, 68 out of 167 staff are above 50. Its general manager, Mr Abdul Rashid, said the club hopes to take advantage of WorkPro to improve productivity and working conditions, so it can continue relying on locals, given the tightening of the foreign labour supply.

Mr Tan said the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) has appointed 12 ambassadors to promote WorkPro to those who are keen to return to work. Their role is to actively reach out to job seekers at district job fairs. The first job fair will be held in the South West District in July.

Together with the Women's Integration Network Council, the WDA plans to appoint 100 ambassadors by the middle of next year.

Ms Sher-Li Torrey, 37, one of the ambassadors, founded social enterprise Mums@Work, in 2010, which helps women find a balance between being a mother and working. She said people who have stopped working for three to five years or longer - even those who held senior positions - tend to lose confidence in applying for jobs.

She said: "I hope to reach out to women and tell employers that these women have a lot to offer."

* More companies joining WorkPro scheme and eyeing older workers
By Sumita Sreedharan, TODAY, 30 Sep 2013

A scheme that supports firms in attracting economically inactive Singaporeans and permanent residents back to the workplace has drawn keen interest, with the number of companies joining it surging from 40 to 340 in the last three months.

And the employees they are targetting seem to be the older ones: More than three-quarters of the companies in the WorkPro scheme have applied for age management grants to make jobs more age-friendly.

Senior Minister of State (Manpower) Amy Khor revealed these statistics yesterday at a job fair organised by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), People’s Association and Women’s Integration Network.

Some 3,000 job openings have been created, said the WDA, with some 2,600 on offer — ranging from manufacturing to security — at the job fair held at Hong Kah North Community Club.

WorkPro was launched in April this year, with S$170 million being set aside over the next three years for companies to conduct free “job preparation” workshops, a retention bonus for those earning up to S$4,500 and a one-time transport allowance of S$200 for those from low-income households.

The age management grant is one of the grants under the scheme and is aimed at helping employers acquire the necessary skills and knowledge on age management practices such as reemployment practices, performance management and job redesign.

Mr Mohd Razib Ibrahim, a Senior Operations Manager at container handling services company Call Lade Enterprises, said the scheme has given his company more hiring options.

Because of the nature of the job, recruiting and keeping workers, especially Singaporeans, has been challenging, he said. But with WorkPro perks such as travel allowances and retention bonuses, the company has managed to hire five more mature workers.

“With these kinds of carrots and incentives, the chance of retaining them is higher as they have something to look forward to,” said Mr Razib.

Another employer, Harry’s Singapore, taps on the incentives to promote work-life measures and now offers four-hour shifts at its outlets to work around Singaporeans’ reluctance to work on weekends.

Said its Vice-President of Human Resources Parmjit Kaur: “It is not really a desired industry for Singaporeans, however this has to change, so we are raising the salaries and benefits ... and with all the initiatives coming in, I think we will be able to achieve that.”

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