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Workforce skills

Singapore’s budget 2024 likely to encourage upskilling

Anticipated initiatives aim to boost productivity and address rising business costs.

Content Insights

The focus will be on enhancing workforce productivity.
90% of surveyed employers seek support in addressing escalating costs.
Businesses can anticipate additional support from the government.

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Singapore’s forthcoming budget is anticipated to introduce measures aimed at supporting the workforce’s aspirations to enhance their skills in response to the widespread integration of artificial intelligence in workplaces.

Expected to be unveiled in the upcoming Budget 2024, the focus will be on enhancing workforce productivity through various initiatives designed to promote upskilling in digitalisation, artificial intelligence, and green technologies, as reported by BNN, with insights from economists at the United Overseas Bank (UOB).

UOB’s Senior Economist Alvin Liew and Associate Economist Jester Koh suggest that these initiatives may include enhancements to Singapore’s SkillsFuture Credit program. Originally introduced in 2015, this program encourages individuals aged 25 and above to acquire new skills by providing a one-time credit top-up of $500.

A potential expansion of this program aligns with the strong inclination among Singaporean employees to pursue upskilling, as evidenced by a recent survey by Indeed, which revealed that over two-thirds of respondents plan to upgrade their skills to remain competitive in light of concerns about AI’s impact on job opportunities.

Over two-thirds of respondents plan to upgrade their skills to remain competitive in light of concerns about AI’s impact on job opportunities.

Furthermore, the economists highlighted forthcoming co-matching schemes with employers and training allowances for mid-career professionals. Liew also suggested the possibility of an increased co-funding share under the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme for the years 2024 to 2026, aimed at alleviating growing business costs, particularly in labour expenses.

Businesses can anticipate additional support from the government, including a one-time Central Provident Fund (CPF) transition offset, as Singapore moves towards a higher monthly CPF salary ceiling by 2026. These measures come in response to calls from employers for assistance in managing rising operational expenses, notably manpower costs.

According to the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), nearly 90% of surveyed employers seek support in addressing escalating costs, with over half expressing a need for assistance in talent acquisition, development, and retention.

SBF CEO Ping Soon Kok emphasised the importance of government support in enabling businesses to address current cost challenges while equipping them with the necessary capabilities in digitalisation, internationalization, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices to remain competitive and future-ready.

Singaporean Finance Minister Lawrence Wong is scheduled to present the Budget 2024 on February 16, as reported by Reuters.

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