Government previously announced a new $36 million SEP Training Support Scheme
NTUC commits an additional $4 million top up
1. 25 March 2020, Wednesday – A total of $40 million will now be available to support our SEPs to go for training. Leveraging the Government’s SEP Training Support Scheme and co-funded by the Government and NTUC, SEPs can now earn as they train. This total fund comprises the Government’s $36 million SEP Training Support Scheme and a $4 million top up from the NTUC Training Fund.
2. Previously, only employers and employees could tap on the Absentee Payroll funding for employer-sponsored training for courses funded by SkillsFuture Singapore – a grant to help employers defray manpower costs incurred when they sent their employees for certifiable skills training during working hours. For training conducted outside working hours, the grant is meant to alleviate the opportunity costs incurred by the employees.
3. However, SEPs were unable to tap on Absentee Payroll funding and NTUC Labour Members of Parliament, Mr Patrick Tay, Mr Ang Hin Kee and Mr Desmond Choo, have been appealing for such a scheme to be made available to SEPs.
Training allowance support for SEPs
4. During her Committee of Supply 2020 speech, Minister for Manpower, Mrs Josephine Teo announced that the Government will be setting aside $36 million under the SEP Training Support Scheme to provide SEPs with a training allowance of $7.50/hour when they attend courses under the SkillsFuture Series, as well as selected sector-specific training programmes. There is no cap to the number of training hours and the scheme would be administered by NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).
Additional support for SEPS who are NTUC Union Members
5. Together with the NTUC Training Fund (SEPs), SEPs who are existing NTUC union members can get an additional training allowance of $1/hour, whilst SEPs who sign up as NTUC union members after 1 March 2020 can get an additional top-up of $0.50/hour, to the $7.50/hour.
6. SEPs may also utilise SkillsFuture Credit to offset the unfunded portion of the training courses and those who are NTUC union members may also defray their training cost by utilising their yearly $250 training grant, i.e., UTAP (Union Training Assistance Programme), which is part of the NTUC union membership benefits.
More targeted help with sector-specific training programmes
7. SEPs come from various industries and professions hence, there is a need for sector-specific courses that SEPs can attend and upskill. NTUC’s U FSE (NTUC Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit) has garnered feedback from SEPs across different industries/professions on what training would be helpful for them. This is in addition to the courses already supported under SkillFuture Singapore.
8. This effort to curate sector-specific training programmes is being done in partnership with SkillsFuture Singapore, relevant sector agencies, representative unions and associations, NTUC’s e2i, NTUC LearningHub and various training partners. The intention is to widen the selection of courses to be made available to SEPs in line with their areas of work.
9. Applications will open on 1 April 2020. NTUC’s e2i will be operationalising and administering the applications for and the disbursement of the allowance. To be eligible for the NTUC Training Fund (SEPs), the applicant’s main source of income must be from self-employment and they must be self-employed at the point of application. They will also have to produce a Consolidated statement of income for year of assessment 2020 submitted to IRAS in capacity of SEP.
Reaching out to more SEPs
10. NTUC U FSE Acting Director, Ms Jean See, shared, “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 is already hard to come by. They have also shared that the time spent at training could have been used to source 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 skill so that when the upturn come, they can ride the waves and be at the forefront of the competition.”
11. Ministry of Manpower Director (Workplace Policy and Strategy Division), Mr Lim Tze Jiat, said “The new SEP Training Support Scheme is part of the Government’s practical efforts to provide fair support to SEPs in these trying times. We encourage SEPs to tap on the scheme, make use of the SkillsFuture subsidies and their SkillsFuture Credits, to upskill themselves and become more future-ready.”
12. NTUC’s e2i CEO, Mr Gilbert Tan, commented, “With e2i’s ecosystem of training providers, businesses, and key industry partners, as well as on-the-ground knowledge of various industries, we are currently working to identify the skillsets and the relevant training that our SEPs will need. With this programme, we hope to assist SEPs to not just tide over this critical period, but to tap on this short- term crisis for long-term opportunities in the future.”
For more information on this programme, please visit: http://www.ntuc.org.sg/ntuctrainingfundSEPs