Over the past few years, the taxi industry landscape has transformed exponentially. The recently-implemented Taxi Availability Standards means that taxi drivers are required to shoulder longer hours on the road. The widespread use of third-party taxi applications and other technology-based call booking systems also means that both taxi drivers and commuters now rely heavily on such matching services to improve matching of supply and demand. Thus, the demand for better services, as well as safer driving has become increasingly more critical.
Working closely with the National Taxi Association (NTA), the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability (e2i) will be supporting a new funding scheme which seeks to up-skill some 4,000 taxi drivers and raise the service standards for the taxi industry and inculcate safe driving amongst the drivers over the next two years. Various taxi operators have been consulted and are supportive of this initiative.
About the Funding Scheme
The $2.52 million funding scheme involves working with taxi operators to implement a structured and continuous training roadmap whereby taxi drivers can be upgraded in three key aspects:
- Service excellence with enhanced communication skills and positive mindset
- Information & technology savviness through leveraging on electronic devices
- Safer driving training
“Many taxi drivers are keen to upgrade themselves to be able to leverage on these gadgets to better-serve commuters, and to be safer road users. Similarly, commuters benefit by getting to their destinations safer, with better service. All in all, this means safer roads for all”, said Mr Ang Hin Kee, Executive Advisor of the National Taxi Association.
Taxi operators may receive up to 90 per cent course fees subsidy for courses which help train their taxi drivers to improve service standards and reduce accident rates. To encourage self-employed taxi drivers to attend training, the scheme also supports absentee payroll of up to $7.50 per hour for each driver, to defray part of their opportunity costs.
Mr Gilbert Tan, Chief Executive Officer of e2i said, “Taxi drivers spend long hours plying on the roads, and it is imperative for them to be equipped with useful skill sets and know-how to deliver better service and drive safely. This new funding scheme provides an additional avenue for taxi operators to put in place structured and sustainable training programmes to up-skill their drivers.”
Additional Support from Taxi Operators Required
Currently, there is little incentive for taxi drivers to attend job-related training as they face difficulty in finding relief drivers to cover for the rental of the vehicle. The loss of income incurred during training is another deterrent for taxi drivers to upgrade themselves.
“Like all workers, self-employed workers also need to have continuous skills upgrading and training to improve their services delivery and driving performance. NTA is very encouraged by this proposal to support absentee payroll under the scheme to encourage more taxi drivers to go for training", concluded Mr Ang.