The SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package was introduced in May 2021 in response to the rapidly weakening jobs market due to COVID-19. While it was set to end in March 2021, DPM Heng Swee Keat announced during Budget 2021 that specific schemes under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package would be extended.
The following components under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills package will be extended:
- Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI)
- SGUnited Traineeships
- SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme
- SGUnited Skills
For employers, the SGUnited Traineeships and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme offer government funding of up to 80% for these company attachments. The hope is that successful workers attached with companies will also join as employees after the attachment stint ends.
For employers interested to apply for the programmes, you can indicate your interest on this form provided by WSG. It will take roughly 10 minutes to complete.
What Is The SGUnited Traineeship Programme?
The SGUnited Traineeship Programme provides government funding of up to 80% of the allowance for companies to hire Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents who have recently graduated or will graduate from education institutions between 2019 and 2021.
The maximum duration of training stints will be reduced to 6 months during the extended phase, and the monthly allowance provided to trainees are capped at $2,500 a month, with employers expected to fork out the remaining 20% of the allowance.
|Traineeships Commencing Before 1 April 2021|
|Required Qualifications (or equivalent)||University Degree or Above||Polytechnic Diploma or Professional Qualifications||ITE (or equivalent)|
|Estimated Training Allowance||$1,800 – $2,500||$1,300 – $1,800||$1,100 – $1,500|
|Traineeships Commencing 1 April 2021 Onwards|
|Estimated Training Allowance||$1,800 – $2,500||$1,700 – $2,100||$1,600 – $1,800|
The training allowance rates after 1 April 2021 will only apply for new traineeships approved to commence from 1 April 2021 onwards. Companies will receive 80% government funding of the training allowance, and have to pay 20%.
What Is The SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme?
The SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme also provides government funding of up to 80% of the allowance for companies to hire mid-career individuals. This is for all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents except those who should be hired under the SGunited Traineeship Programme.
The duration of attachment stints is up to 6 months, and the monthly allowance provided to individuals vary depending on the scope of attachment and their age, with employers expected to fork out the remaining 20% of the allowance.
|Attachments Commencing Before 1 April 2021||All Mid-Career Pathways Trainees|
|Monthly Training Allowance||$1,400 – $3,000|
|Government Funding||Up to 80% of the training allowance|
|Attachments Commencing 1 April 2021 Onwards|
|Mid-Career Pathways Trainees Below Age 40|
|Mid-Career Pathways Trainees aged 40 and Above|
|Monthly Training Allowance||$1,600 – $3,000||$1,800 – $3,800|
|Government Funding||Up to 80% of the training allowance||Up to 90% of the training allowance|
Restrictions On Remuneration To SGUnited and Mid-Career Pathways Trainees
The government has set a wage cap for both the SGUnited Traineeship and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme. Employers are not supposed to (or allowed to) provide additional remuneration to those attached to them.
This include not paying CPF to their employees. If there is an intention to contribute CPF to these individuals, employers should establish an employment relationship instead. When you employ these individuals, you may qualify for other support measures, including the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI).
Furthermore, any discretionary goodwill benefits are to be non-monetary only. This can include leave encashment benefits or any bonuses that companies offer. As such trainees are not employees they will not be entitled to any overtime pay either – and companies should not make them put in overtime.
However, transport or meal allowances to trainees can be provided on a reimbursement basis (with proof of receipts). These allowances are not covered under the 80% government funding.
What About Annual Leave, Sick Leave And Other Employee Benefits?
Those on the SGUnited traineeship Programme or the Mid-Career Pathways Programme are not covered under the Employment Act. As such, employers and trainees do not share an employer-employee relationship.
There is no obligation to provide such entitlements. However, organisations may choose to offer non-monetary benefits on a goodwill basis.
This can include reimbursements for visiting the doctor and getting a sick leave, providing company insurance, providing annual leave or other types of company benefits you are already providing other employees that are either on a reimbursement basis or non-monetary in nature.
However, organisations are required to buy workplace injury insurance for those on SGUnited Traineeship and Mid-Career Pathways Programme.
How Many Trainees Can Companies Take On?
The government portals do not make the eligibility to take on more trainees known. Instead, they state that the number of trainees that each organisation can take on will be evaluated and approved by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), based on submitted traineeship development plans and ability to provide meaningful traineeships.
Starting The SGUnited Traineeship/Mid-Career Pathways Stint
Employers cannot simply offer traineeship or attachment stints to suitable individual. Instead, the stint can only commence after the following is in place:
- Application for the position has been approved by SBF
- Letter of Offer for SGUnited Traineeship programme/Mid-Career Pathways programme is issued by SBF
- Organisation posts the position on the mycareersfuture.gov.sg portal and selects suitable applicants
- Agreement has been accepted and signed by the successful candidate
- Details of the candidate is submitted to and cleared by SBF
- Positions available on mycareersfuture.gov.sg portal updated with successful candidate selections (i.e. closing applicable positions)
Note that organisations must post opportunities on the mycareersfuture.gov.sg portal, and from there, receive applications from interested and eligible individuals.
Employers may also select an individual who may already be working with them on a temp/contract/full-time role at the point of application.
How You Will Receive The Government Co-Funding
Organisations are required to pay those attached to them on SGUnited Traineeship and Mid-Career Pathway programme on a monthly basis (in a timely manner). If they do not do so, SBF is authorised to withhold disbursements of the grant to them.
They will then be able to receive reimbursement on the government-funded portion from SBF. This should typically be on a monthly basis as well.
Organisations are typically required to submit training updates, with the sign-off from trainees or those attached to them, to SBF as well.
Organisations can use 3rd party vendors to manage their payroll submission for the government co-funding to SBF. However, the disbursement will be made directly to the organisation.
Terminating The Trainee During The Course Of The Attachment
Organisations can terminate the trainee at any time, by providing sufficient notice to the trainee, as stipulated in the training agreement. Organisations should also seek approval from SBF with an explanation for terminating the attachment.
Likewise, trainees are also allowed to leave the traineeship at any time if there are good reasons, such as finding a full-time job elsewhere. Similarly, they should also provide sufficient notice period.
The government funding will only be provided for the duration of the “fulfilled” traineeship.
Note that organisations must allow their trainees to be able to leave them, especially if they find full-time employment. In fact, a joint response from MOM, Workforce Singapore (WSG) and SBF was put out in January to address the situation of an SGUnited Trainee not being allowed to leave his traineeship by his host organisation. The organisation has been barred from offering new traineeships and attachments, as well as from participating in all future WSG programmes.
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