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Air Transport Sector Gets Enhanced Training and Support Package to Upskill Workers and Save Jobs

~More than 8,000 workers across major air transport companies to benefit from additional funding for training~

~An additional funding of $500,000 will be set aside to support unionised companies in training workers~

To mitigate the impact of COVID-19, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), together with the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster, have jointly announced an enhanced training and support package to help air transport companies defray business costs and protect workers jobs. This initiative is part of the Stabilisation and Support Package that was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat during Budget 2020. The support package was unveiled by NTUC Secretary- General Ng Chee Meng, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade & Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat, and Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, at a visit to SATs Coolport earlier today.

In addition, NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) will be injecting an additional sum of $500,000 to help unionised companies in the air transport sector send their workers for training, for the first time. This is on top of the funding that air transport companies would receive under the NETF Collaborative Fund1. Should utilisation rate of training increase, e2i is prepared to extend further funding support to keep workers employable and resilient.

Through the enhanced package, affected companies will receive additional relief measures when they send their workers for retraining and reskilling, to prepare for when business demands return.

Mr Ong Hwee Liang, Chairman of the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster, said, “Our aviation companies must take advantage of this training support so that they can manage excess manpower and be able to save jobs. We must also take advantage of this opportunity to deepen workers’ skills. The measures in the support package will help to bolster these efforts. Such efforts in the face of challenges brought on by COVID-19 also reflect the importance of tripartism and for all of us to rally together and position ourselves to overcome near-term challenges and emerge stronger for the upturn.”

“The aviation sector is facing turbulent times with the airlines and the aviation sector adversely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. It is important at this point, to protect our workers’ job security, and provide workers with what they need for skills progression. Together with tripartite partners, NTUC’s e2i wants to help mitigate the business impact so that when the storm clears, businesses and workers alike can soar higher and faster,” said Mr Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i.


Ensuring Workers are Safe and Prepared

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the respective unions2 in the NTUC Aerospace and Aviation Cluster have been working to identify areas of training to deepen workers’ skill sets in line with new technologies through the various Company Training Committees. In light of the increasing impact on the sector, the Cluster has reached out to the tripartite partners and with the support of the various agencies, put together the additional support measures with the aim to upskill workers and save jobs.

To better understand the situation, union leaders have also been walking the ground to understand workers’ concerns and guide them on the proper usage of masks and the importance of maintaining proper hygiene. The Cluster has also worked closely with CAAS, Changi Airport Group and other agency partners to regularly share and discuss operational concerns arising from the enhanced precautionary measures put in place at Changi Airport and airlines. For example, the processes of aircraft interior cleaning work have been enhanced with added precautionary measures based on feedback raised by the unions. This has provided greater assurance to airline crew and ground handling staff.


Encouraging Air Transport Sector to Leverage Downtime to Upskill and Reskill

SSG will provide air transport companies with time-limited enhanced training support to help them upgrade the capabilities of their workers. Employers in the air transport sector who send their workers for selected sector-specific training programmes will receive: (i) Enhanced Absentee Payroll (AP) support at 90% of hourly basic salary capped at $10 per hour, and (ii) Enhanced course fee support at 90% of course fees, up from a baseline rate of 50%.

SSG will work with appointed training partners to ramp up training capacity to cater to the needs of affected employees during this period, such as passenger service agents and cabin officers. For a start, SSG is partnering SATS Academy to deliver training programmes that include critical skills such as dangerous goods handling, perishables handling and serving passengers with reduced mobility and disabilities.

Mr Ong Tze-Ch’in, Chief Executive of SSG said, “We hope that these enhanced training support measures will encourage companies in the air transport sector to take this window of opportunity to uplift the capabilities and competencies of their workforce.”


Launch of New Place-and-Train Programme to Reskill Air Transport Coordinators

To help employers defray the costs involved to reskill and prepare workers for newly created, redesigned and enhanced roles, WSG has rolled out the new Place-and-Train (PnT) Programme for Air Transport Coordinators. In view of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, employers will receive salary support of up to six months to reskill their Rank-and-File workers with new or expanded competencies. This would also ensure that impacted employees will be prepared when the travel demand returns.

Mr Tan Choon Shian, Chief Executive of WSG said, “We are committed to ensuring that the workers in the aviation industry can continue to be in gainful employment while the sector braces for further slowdown. We strongly encourage employers to take a long-term view to press on with business transformation, and work with us to use the downtime to retain and reskill your workers to prepare for business recovery.”

Mr Kevin Shum, Director-General, CAAS, said, “The aviation industry has been significantly affected by COVID-19 and our partners are understandably very concerned about the impact on business and jobs. At the same time, there is an opportunity for the industry to upskill workers and be better prepared to benefit when recovery occurs. CAAS is working closely with key employers to understand the challenges they face. We have worked with our close partners – NTUC, SSG and WSG - to develop and support training that would broaden and deepen the skill sets of the air transport workforce. We are pleased that NTUC, SSG and WSG are providing further support for employers and workers in our industry. We will continue to stand with our companies and partner agencies, to tide our sector through this period.