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Higher support of up to S$500 a year for union members aged 40 and above to upgrade skills

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Union members who are aged 40 and over will soon receive more support to upgrade their current skills and learn new ones.

[SINGAPORE] Union members who are aged 40 and over will soon receive more support to upgrade their current skills and learn new ones.

From July 1, they can use up to S$500 a year to defray up to half of the out-of-pocket expenses for course fees. Younger workers will still get S$250 a year.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) announced this enhancement to its Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) in a statement on Friday.

The higher funding level applies until Dec 31, 2022. It can be used on some 5,300 courses listed on the NTUC website.

UTAP complements government support for training expenses, such as the SkillsFuture Credit. All Singaporeans aged 25 and above will receive a one-off S$500 credit top-up this year, with an additional S$500 for Singaporeans aged from 40 to 60.

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NTUC noted that union members can use both their SkillsFuture Credit and UTAP funds at the same time for courses that are listed under both schemes. In such cases, the course fee will be offset using the SkillsFuture Credit first and then the member can claim up to 50 per cent of the remaining fees from UTAP.

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his national broadcast on Wednesday that the government is making a concerted effort to help middle-aged and mature Singaporean workers by creating opportunities, such as the chance to work at companies and public sector agencies temporarily, while they prepare for more permanent jobs.

The labour market report released by the Manpower Ministry on Monday also said that about 72 per cent of local workers who were retrenched in the first three months of this year are aged 40 and above.

Gilbert Tan, chief executive of NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute that manages UTAP, also said that as Singapore's economy is likely to face a long and hard road to recovery post-Covid-19, it is important to create more training and career opportunities for mid-career Singaporeans.

This group is more vulnerable and may require additional help in skills acquisition as they support their young and older family members.

"We want to reach out to them now and beyond the pandemic, to raise their employability through the enhanced UTAP funding support, so that they can jumpstart with relevant skills when the job market picks up again," he said.

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