Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) will now have a total of $40 million in training support.The amount comes after NTUC committed on 25 March 2020 to add $4 million to the $36-million SEP Training Support Scheme set aside by the Government.
*This article was updated on 26 March 2020.
By Fawwaz Baktee
Self-Employed Persons (SEPs) will now have a total of $40 million in training support.
The amount comes after NTUC committed on 25 March 2020 to add $4 million to the $36-million SEP Training Support Scheme set aside by the Government.
Update 26 March 2020: The Government will add a further $48 million to the SEP Training Support Scheme, as announced at the Resilience Budget.
The $4 million top-up will come from the NTUC Training Fund (SEPs).
As announced by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo at Budget 2020, the SEP Support Scheme will provide SEPs with a training allowance of $7.50 per hour, from 1-30 April 2020, when they attend courses under the SkillsFuture series, as well as sector-specific training programmes.
Update 26 March 2020: From 1 May 2020, the Government will bring up the hourly training allowance from $7.50 per hour of training to $10 per hour of training, as announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in his Resilience Budget speech.
With NTUC’s top-up, SEPs who are existing union members get an additional $1 per hour on top of the $7.50 per hour when they go for training.
New union members who sign up after 1 March 2020 will get an additional $0.50 per hour to the $7.50 per hour amount.
“Speaking to SEPs on the ground, we know that many of our SEPs are concerned about taking time off to go for training as that will mean missing out on assignments which during this Covid-19 period are already hard to come by. They have also shared that the time spent at training could have been used for more work opportunities and the cost of going to and from these training sessions is also an added expense.
“Hence the NTUC Training Fund (SEPs) seeks to defray such opportunity costs as well as extend some level of financial relief to these SEPs. I encourage SEPs to make use of this lull time in the economy to train and upskill so that when the upturn comes, they can ride the waves and be at the forefront of the competition,” said NTUC U FSE (Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit) Acting Director Jean See.
There is no cap to the number of training hours SEPs can claim under the scheme, according to NTUC. The scheme will be administered by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).
Applications for the scheme will open on 1 April 2020 until the end of the year, and can be done on e2i’s website.
"What I propose is that we take things one step at a time, keep our ears close to the ground, look at the needs of our workers and keep improving on the things we can do to help them; whether it is on Government policies, whether it's on NTUC's assistance for our workers ... We will be doing our very best to extend our assistance substantially and create a care network as well," said NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng.
He also urged freelancers and SEPs to take this time make use of the assistance provided to them to train and upskill.
To be eligible for the allowance under the NTUC Training Fund, members’ main source of income must come from self-employment and they need to be self-employed at the time of application.
On course funding, SEPs can utlitise their SkillsFuture Credit for the unfunded portion of their courses, and union members can also defray their training course using the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP).
U FSE is also working to curate sector-specific training programmes. To do this, U FSE will work with SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), sector agencies, unions and associations, e2i, NTUC LearningHub, and other partners.
These courses will be in addition to the courses already supported under SSG. According to U FSE, the intention is to widen the selection of courses for SEPs that are in line with their work.
By Fawwaz Baktee