Commentary

Discovering the gold mine in mature PMEs

Discovering the gold mine in mature PMEs
Published: 4:15 AM, October 14, 2015
Updated: 11:05 AM, October 14, 2015
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Starting this month, companies looking to employ mature professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) to fill vacancies will get financial help from the Government to offset their wage costs.

This Career Support Programme (CSP) by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency is a good start as it encourages companies to tap on the wealth of experience that mature local PMEs can bring to the workplace.

Those who hire unemployed locals, aged 40 and above, and pay them at least S$4,000 a month can get monthly wage subsidies of between S$400 and S$2,800 for 12 months to lower their costs.

But this subsidy, which covers up to 40 per cent of an employee’s wages, may not benefit all firms. As there are fewer positions for PMEs in each small medium enterprise (SME), and these positions by and large do not pay more than S$4,000 a month, the scheme may probably be more helpful to bigger companies.

The scheme’s 12-month time frame may also be an issue for some SMEs because of uncertainties over whether they can afford to continue paying the same wages when the subsidy has been reduced or withdrawn.

For the scheme to have a greater impact, it may be more useful to have a tiered subsidy rate for professionals, managers and executives, as each position draws different salary levels within a company.

The subsidy should also be extended from 12 to 24 months, as a shorter time frame tends to result in companies having a resistance to commit to hiring for the long term.

If companies can see the value in tapping this scheme, it will go a long way to improve the employment prospects of PMEs, many of whom face challenges when looking for a new job.

Government data from the second quarter of this year shows that seven in 10 local workers who are laid off are professionals, managers, executives and technicians, or PMETs. Most are 40 and above. Among the jobless PMETs, only 49.1 per cent found work within six months of beginning their job search.

Mid-career PMEs, especially those in their 40s and 50s, have the toughest time. Many are unfamiliar with the job market, or do not have the skills for new jobs as they may have stayed in one company for several years.

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