Singaporeans give their two cents on WorkPro

The recent S$170m WorkPro scheme represents a generous sum of money dedicated to encouraging non-active people (those not holding a job and not actively looking for one) to re-enter the workforce. A retention bonus will also be given if the employee stays with the company for at least a year.

For those that have never heard of it, these are some of the WorkPro’s main features:

It starts from 1 April 2013 and will be available for the next three years.

  • Those who have not been working for three months can attend fully-funded job preparation workshops.
  • Those earning a gross monthly salary of up to S$4,500 can receive a retention bonus if they stay with the company for at least a year.
  • Those from low-income households can receive a one-time transport allowance.
  • SMEs form 70% of companies will benefit from this scheme.
  • Work-Life Grants will defray costs and motivate employers.

Seems like a pretty attractive deal, right? So what do netizens think of this scheme?

Jolene Ng, university student: Good if there’s an element of flexibility.

“I think it’s a great idea by the govt to get Singaporeans to fill in the gaps in our workforce, especially since our biggest gripe to-date is the influx of foreigners. The govt has already imposed such a scheme to help facilitate local employment. The onus is also on the locals to get involved and willingness to contribute if they want to change the foreign employment situation because govt policies are merely structures and require the support of people to be mobilised. Not sure how the response to this scheme is, but if it’s poor, the govt needs to be more reflexive and find out what would motivate the locals to support such a scheme and provide the benefits that would drive them to join, I guess.”

Yeo Xin Hang, freelancer: What’s the long-term plan?

“It’s a good plan, but what will happen after 3 years? Most conditions for funding are the workers being employed permanently or under contract. Back-to-work people are normally hired under contract. When their contracts are up and when funding from government stops, will these people still have their job? This scheme might solve the problem at hand, but we need to consider long term as well. Question is how can we get the companies to adopt and maintain these initiatives without funding from outside? Secondly, the workers themselves must be willing to put in effort when they are back to work. They must show the company that the company needs them and that their experience is valuable. If the workers are not motivated, the companies might not want to keep them after their contract ends.”

Farah Sidek, Account Manager: Spread the word!

“I heard about the scheme because my mum was part of it, and I think it’s good because it helps people get employed even though they’re housewives, giving them an additional income. One thing I’d like to highlight is the way the govt is reaching out to the relevant people. My mum knew about it through mail, which is an effective way of reaching out to people who are not on online channels.”

Terrence Tan, tech writer: Don’t include PRs, perhaps?

“It’s a good scheme to encourage more people to be in the workforce. This is especially so for the NHRI and OJT. As for the retention bonus, it’s good to see this in place, although this is rather subjective as there are many factors to consider, especially at the workplace. In addition, the schemes seem mainly targeted at SME rather than large corps. Would be good to rope the bigger boys into the game too! Another issue here, which some might consider, is the inclusion of PRs in the scheme. Whilst we may consider PRs to be together with Singaporeans, they are also a recent growing group making such a divide.”

Iris Chong, reporter: Interesting. Will employers be up for it?

“I think it’s good that the government is taking steps in this direction, but the fundamentals boil down to whether corporations are willing to embrace the concept of work-life balance and allow this group of employees flexibility in terms of time and working from home.”

What are your thoughts on the measure?

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Samantha Wong

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