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SMEs to get extra S$10,000 subsidy to help train workers

STARTING July 1, companies in Singapore will be able to get more support to upgrade their workers' skills with a S$10,000 subsidy under the enhanced Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) provided by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

STARTING July 1, companies in Singapore will be able to get more support to upgrade their workers' skills with a S$10,000 subsidy under the enhanced Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) provided by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

The PSG SkillsFuture Training Subsidy (SFTS) was announced by Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat at the launch of the SkillsFuture Festival 2019 on Friday.

Eligible companies will be able to use the subsidy, capped at S$10,000 per company, to offset up to 70 per cent of out-of-pocket training expenses. It can also be used on top of existing government subsidies.

Noting that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employ about 70 per cent of the workforce but invest less in training than larger companies do, Mr Chee said: "For our broad middle-tier of SMEs to upgrade their capabilities and enhance their competitiveness, we have to do better when it comes to worker training.

"Otherwise, the skills gap could become a bottleneck that limits economic competitiveness."

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Companies can apply for the PSG and SFTS at the same time between July 1 and March 31, 2023. Businesses whose PSG applications were approved earlier are also eligible to apply for the additional subsidy.

To help enterprises select the appropriate training courses for their workers, SSG is working with intermediaries such as industry partners, trade associations and chambers, unions and lead agencies to co-create training curricula and work-learn programmes as well as workplace learning and skills solutions to improve SMEs' capabilities and service delivery.

Said Mr Chee: "This is where intermediaries such as trade associations, banks, IT companies and accounting firms can play a useful role. They know their SME customers well and understand these customers' business requirements, so they can provide tailored programmes to help SMEs to digitalise and raise productivity."

In sectors that require specialised skills and knowledge, which are harder to find specific courses for, the government plans to work with anchor companies to conduct training on behalf of other companies. For instance, IBM and SSG are working together to develop IBM-certified programmes in Artificial Intelligence for the sector.

Mr Chee noted that this approach has been successfully adopted by countries like Switzerland, where companies such as Swatch train their competitors' workers as well as their own.

"It may sound counter-intuitive that they would train workers on behalf of their competitors. But we know cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive — it is possible for companies to cooperate in certain areas while competing in other areas," he said.

"In the area of training, such a model allows the industry as a whole to train and attract more workers for all companies. By growing the pie, there is more for everyone to share."

The SkillsFuture Festival 2019 is organised by SkillsFuture Singapore and runs from June 28 to Aug 11, featuring more than 250 community, education and industry partners to provide more than 350 learning activities. The activities will be held island-wide at various locations in neighbourhoods, at institutes of higher learning and within business hubs.

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