This year's speech covered everything from COVID-19 to business transformation
Business transformation and economic uncertainties were top issues covered in yesterday’s (18 February) Singapore Budget 2020 announcement.
Minister Heng Swee Keat started off, however, addressing the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. He acknowledged the “ripple effects” on all sectors and announced support schemes for affected employers and employees.
The Stabilisation and Support Package was offered as a solution to help businesses with their cash flow and tide over both the economic and ongoing coronavirus situation.
HRD outlined parts of the Budget, and reached out to industry leaders for their input.
Support for COVID-19
Minister Heng noted that although tourism and aviation industries are “more directly affected” by the outbreak, it has left “ripple effects” on other business sectors.
What’s more, he said the impact of the outbreak “may be worse than projected”, hence the urgent need to be prepared.
As part of Budget 2020, the government will offer additional support to sectors directly affected by COVID-19, namely tourism, aviation, retail, food services, and transport services.
Initiatives to help affected workforces include:
- Enhanced support to retrain workers under the Adapt and Grow initiative, with a focus on redeployment efforts
- Extended funding period to reskill employees — from three months to a maximum of six months
- Employers in these sectors will be encouraged to retain and train more local workers through the new Jobs Support Scheme
Chia Seng Chye, partner, Tax Services at Ernst & Young Solutions LLP said the additional support will be crucial to help employers through uncertain times.
“The Budget has reiterated Singapore’s commitment to fight the economic slowdown and COVID-2019 by unveiling wide-ranging and far-reaching measures for Singaporeans and businesses, with targeted support for sectors and individuals that are more affected,” Chia told HRD.
Enhance organisational transformation with L&D
Singapore is urging employers to played an “enhanced role” in developing their staff. The minister announced a new SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit to ensure employees are upgraded as the organisation goes through transformation.
Employers “know the best skills needed” for their business to transform, Heng said, and can play a key role in helping their workers learn and apply new skills.
The Enterprise Credit will help offset about 90% costs of business transformation, job redesign, and skills training. The new scheme is aimed at helping small and medium-sized enterprises, which makes up the majority of Singapore’s businesses.
Commenting on the minister’s focus on a ‘whole organisation’ transformation, Anuradha Purbey, people director (Asia) at Aviva shared the importance of making upskilling a priority.
“A cloud enabled environment has become a priority for many organisations including Aviva,” Purbey told HRD. “For us, it is an opportunity to re-skill our existing employees and upskill new graduates to ensure that our workforce is future ready.
“We at Aviva believe that lifelong learning will help our employees remain relevant in this fast-changing work environment. To enable this, we are creating the capacity for our employees to be reskilled and upskilled and find appropriate individual learning opportunities.”