Supporting Singaporeans at the workplace: Looking back at the decade
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Supporting Singaporeans at the workplace: Looking back at the decade

Elderly lady working in a cafe

Workers with lower skills and lower wages get support through Workfare 

2007: Workfare

A key pillar of Singapore’s social security landscape, Workfare encourages older, lower-wage Singaporean workers to upskill by supplementing their incomes and providing funding support for their training. The scheme has evolved over the years, expanding in scope and support. There are now two parts to Workfare – the Workfare Income Supplement Scheme and the Workfare Training Support.

The former rewards older, lower-wage Singaporeans and persons with disabilities who work, by providing them with cash and CPF payouts. This way, lower-wage Singaporeans get help to build up their retirement nest. Under the Workfare Training Support, the same group of workers will get help when they want to upgrade their skills through training.

2013: Workpro

Workpro gives out grants to employers to support them in redesigning jobs, improving workplace practices and implementing work-life measures. Whether this takes the form of flexi-work arrangements or making work less physically taxing, these measures support and encourage older Singaporeans, as well as stay-at-home mothers, to re-enter the working world.

Group of officers in discussion

Find a promising job and upgrade your skills with an array of programmes to support your career journey. Companies also benefit from these schemes which enlarge the pool of talent.

2014: Adapt and Grow

If you’re looking for a job, need some career guidance, or are planning to move into a new sector, programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative can help open doors to a fulfilling career.

  • Retrenched Singaporeans or those who have been jobless for at least six months will get help to find a job with the Career Support Programme. Employers who hire them to fill mid-level PMET jobs will receive salary support for the first year.

  • PMETs can upgrade their skills to take on new jobs with the Professional Conversion Programme. Companies receive funding for their employee’s salary as well as training fees, while trainees will receive subsidies for course fees and a training allowance capped at $4,000 a month.

  • SMEs looking to better recruit, train, manage and retain newly-hired PMET workers can turn to P-Max, which requires both employer and employee to attend workshops and training courses.

  • Assess a jobseeker’s suitability via a cost-free, short-term work stint of up to three months before hiring the worker. This Work Trial initiative encourages employers to hire locals for a stint before offering a permanent role.

2015: Lean Enterprise Development Scheme

SMEs learn how to become more manpower-lean, build a stronger Singaporean core and develop a better quality workforce with the Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme. Several agencies, such as EDB, STB and MOM, help companies tap on assistance from various channels to improve processes and business models. The scheme also allows companies to apply for transitional foreign manpower as they recruit locals to build up a stronger Singaporean core.

DPM Tharman speaking at an eventDeputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam champions the SkillsFuture movement


Learning never stops. In the new economy where business cycles were shorter and people were expected to multi-task as well as have a range of competencies, everyone needed to continue picking up new skills, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Budget 2015 speech. This, he said, was the best way for individuals to defend against sudden shocks in the economy, wrought by the rapid pace of change and disruption.

SkillsFuture, as this movement has been named, provides a range of opportunities for continuous learning. Among the many initiatives launched, the one you might remember is the $500 SkillsFuture Credits, which people can use to take up courses ranging from baking to coding and even learning languages.

SkillsFuture Earn and Learn programme

Through mentorship, in-company projects and practical workplace training, the Earn and Learn programme offers fresh polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates a career headstart by helping them build on their existing knowledge and keep up to speed on industry developments before they enter the workplace.

SkillsFuture Mentors Programme

Replicating the “buddy-system” methodology of learning, existing industry mentors are matched with eligible SMEs over a nine-month period to provide guidance and coaching in the areas of learning and development.

2016: Lifelong Learning Festival

The first ever Lifelong Learning Festival, held over a two-week period with a range of activities across the island, was aimed at creating awareness of available SkillsFuture programmes.

Computer savvy individuals

There were various programmes which help Singaporeans pick up new skills to stay relevant and employable


2017: New SkillsFuture series in eight areas

In October 2017, SkillsFuture Singapore launched a new series of training programmes in eight areas of priority and emerging skills. These eight areas drew reference from the national Industry Transformation Maps, and included data analytics, advanced manufacturing, urban solutions and entrepreneurship. The new series aimed to train 10,000 Singaporeans for a start, and 50,000 Singaporeans by 2020.

Going by the healthy takeup rate of SkillsFuture programmes, the new courses were likely to draw a sizable crowd. A SkillsFuture report revealed that 418,000 individuals took up 950,000 training places funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) in 2016. This was an increase from 2015, when 379,000 individuals took up 835,000 places. Here’s to new skills and new you!

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