TL;DR – Budget 2023 will fund schemes that will strengthen retirement adequacy and support employers who re-employ senior workers. The Progressive Wage Model will be extended to more sectors and occupations to uplift the wages of low-wage workers.
As Singapore moves towards a post-pandemic phase, many Singaporeans are concerned about the higher cost of living coupled with inflation.
In a Facebook post, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said that the Budget, themed “moving forward in a new era”, will help Singaporeans seize new opportunities, strengthen the nation’s social compact, and give assurance to families.
Mr Wong spoke at Parliament on 14 February, “Ultimately, the value we create as an economy must benefit Singaporeans in the form of wage growth and job opportunities.”
Integrated Training and Job placement
Many Singaporeans have benefitted from the SkillsFuture credit by attending training courses, but training programmes can vary in quality. Some lead to recognized certifications and helped workers gain specialized skills that are sought after by the industry. However, some attend courses that may not be relevant to industry needs.
Launching the pilot Job-Skills Integrators will bring together key players in select sectors to develop industry-relevant training and facilitate job matching. This will optimize training and job placements and support displaced workers so they can be re-trained and placed into new jobs and bounce back from the setback.
What will Job-Skills Integrator do?
- Job-Skill Integrators will engage enterprises to understand manpower and skills gaps in the sector.
- Work with training providers to update existing training programmes or develop new ones that will close the skills gap.
- Work closely with employment facilitation agencies, get buy-in from industry partners and unions, and identify individuals with the right aptitude and fit for training. More importantly, they must ensure that training translates into better employment and wages.
The Jobs-Skills integrators will pilot in the Precision Engineering, Retail, and Wholesale Trade sectors, where there are higher concentrations of senior workers and SMEs.
In National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)’s Secretary General Ng Chee Meng’s Facebook post, he said, “NTUC supports this move because the best way to cope with the rising cost of living is for our workers to achieve better skills and in turn, have better jobs. NTUC will continue to work with our tripartite partners and unions to push for better training outcomes for our workers.”
Senior Employment Support
Since 1 July 2022, Singapore’s retirement age has been raised from 62 to 63. Re-employment age has correspondingly been raised from 67 to 68.
At the launch of the Structured Career Planning (SCP) guidebook that happened last July, Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Heng Chee How said, “We often hear older workers worry whether they can continue working as their companies undergo big and quick changes in business models and technology. If we cannot address these well, both companies and older workers will lose out.”
It is heartening to hear in today’s Budget announcement that the Senior Employment Credit will be extended till 2025. The Part-time Re-employment Grant will also be extended till 2025 which will benefit employers who offer part-time re-employment, other flexible work arrangements, and structured career planning for senior workers.
Strengthen Retirement Adequacy
In 2022, while the Government improved CPF contribution rates of workers aged 55 – 70, Mr Heng also highlighted that it is insufficient for most to achieve retirement adequacy. It appears that the Government have considered this view and came up with the following:
- Provide CPF Transition Support to lower-income platform workers for an increase in CPF contributions. This will apply to platform workers below the age of 30 and platform companies be required to pay CPF contributions for these platform workers. These changes will help platform workers raise their total earnings and strengthen their housing and retirement adequacy.
- Increase CPF contribution rates for senior workers and provide CPF Transition Offset. The CPF Transition Offset will alleviate the increase in business costs. The offset support will continue in 2024 as the CPF contribution rates are expected to increase again next year as well.
- Increase the minimum CPF monthly payout for seniors on Retirement Sum Scheme to $350.
- Increase CPF monthly salary ceiling from $6,000 to $8,000 by 2026. This adjustment is done to keep up with rising monthly salaries.
Lower wage workers
- Extended Progressive Wage Model to more sectors and occupations.
- Provide transitional wages for employers Progressive Wage Credit scheme (PWCS) budget will increase. The budget will be topped up by $2.4 billion this year.
- The Enabling Employment Credit will be enhanced. This will provide employers with support to hire PwDs (People with disability). The Enabling Employment Credit will alleviate employers from the larger portion of PwDs’ wages and provide support for PwDs who have not been able to find work for at least six months.
- Uplifting employment Credit will be introduced in the form of a time-limited wage offset to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders.
More details on these schemes will be shared by the Minister for Manpower at the Committee of Supply (COS) speeches.
So, has the Budget 2023 announcement addressed your concerns as a worker? Let us know your thoughts. But more importantly, if you have any pressing concerns or career aspirations, you can voice them out here because NTUC is always championing the interest of all workers.