Singapore's 2024 Budget ​presented by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong earlier this month, focuses on actionable measures to collaboratively shape a brighter future. “Budget 2024 is about taking concrete steps to build our shared future together,” DPM Wong stated.

The budget encompasses initiatives to address current issues facing families and businesses, aims for enhanced job opportunities and growth, prepares individuals for lifelong employment, opens more avenues for fairness and advancement, and offers increased security for households and the elderly.

Here we discuss the budget's main highlights and their potential advantages for Singapore's workforce, and employment landscape on the whole.

Skill Development: Credits, Subsidies and Allowances

As technological advancements and global shifts redefine job roles and industry demands, equipping professionals with future-ready skills ensures not only individual career resilience but also organisational agility and competitiveness.

This forward-thinking approach fosters innovation, enhances productivity, and prepares both employees and businesses to navigate and thrive in the uncertainties of tomorrow, securing a robust and adaptable economic future.

The three fresh initiatives which were announced are:

  1. SkillsFuture Credit Enhancement: Initiatives to support mid-career professionals aged 40+ in upskilling and reskilling, including the SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme with up to 90% course fee subsidies and an additional S$4,000 SkillsFuture Credit starting May 2024.

  2. Subsidies for Full-Time Diplomas: From the Academic Year 2025, Singaporeans aged 40+ will be eligible for subsidies for additional full-time diploma courses at polytechnics, ITE, and Arts Institutions, even if they have previously completed higher education.

  3. Training Allowance Provision: Eligible Singaporeans aged 40+ enrolling in selected full-time courses will receive a monthly training allowance of 50% of their average monthly earnings from the past year, up to a maximum of $3,000 per month, for up to 24 months.

Employment Opportunities and Job Security

Here are four pivotal elements of the Budget aimed at nurturing a robust, innovative, and dynamic economy, securing sustainable quality employment and improved living standards for Singaporeans.

  1. Job Creation Success: The government's investment strategies have exceeded expectations, creating over 20,000 new jobs and demonstrating the effectiveness of these policies in driving economic growth and job creation.

  2. Refundable Investment Credit: A new initiative aimed at encouraging economic and eco-friendly projects has been introduced, supporting activities that lead to sustainable growth.

  3. National Productivity Fund Increase: An extra $2 billion has been added to the National Productivity Fund, showing a strong commitment to innovation and investment in the economy.

  4. Boost in R&D Investment: An additional $3 billion has been put into the Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2025 plan, maintaining investment in R&D at about 1% of GDP and focusing on sectors like advanced manufacturing and the digital economy to keep Singapore competitive on the global stage.

These actions ensure that current positions are more secure and in line with upcoming economic trends in addition to creating new jobs. The need for qualified personnel in these developing fields rises as companies grow more inventive and sustainable, providing Singaporeans with additional options for their career trajectories and thus supporting a robust and thriving economy.

Temporary Support for Involuntarily Unemployed

DPM Wong acknowledged the inevitable upheaval technological advancements bring to the economy, asserting that growth and dynamism inherently entail failures and losses. “In some sectors, firms will have to let go of people, while in other sectors, new and better jobs will be created,” he noted.

Those affected by layoffs, or the “involuntarily unemployed”, often feel the pressure to accept the first offer they get. To address this, DPM Wong unveiled plans for a temporary financial assistance program aimed at supporting those undergoing training or seeking better-suited roles.

Regarding the scheme's rollout timeline, the Finance Minister shared that the parameters are a work in progress and the details are scheduled to be rolled out by the end of the year.

Elevating Earnings for Lower-Income Employees

Singapore has been actively working to elevate the status of lower-wage workers over the past decade, successfully narrowing the income inequality gap to its lowest in twenty years.

To further support these workers, here are 3 key measures to reduce the wage gap:

  1. Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme Enhancements: The qualifying income cap will be raised to $3,000, and maximum annual payouts for senior workers will increase to $4,900.

  2. Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) Adjustment: Increased to $1,600, ensuring all local employees in firms hiring foreign workers meet this minimum wage standard.

  3. Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS) Enhancements: Increased government co-funding levels up to 50%, and the wage ceiling will rise to $3,000, supported by a $1 billion fund top-up.

Summing up, for employees these opportunities and measures translate into significant personal and professional growth, career advancement and increased financial stability. This will help to solidify the nation’s position as the leading innovation and talent hub in the APAC region.

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