For the Ministry of Manpower
1. A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim: Professional Conversion Programme
I applaud the Ministry’s effort in implementing the Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP) to help fellow Singaporeans to reskill and acquire the necessary knowledge and competencies to take on new jobs.
I would like to ask the Minister for an update of the PCP? How has the PCP benefitted Singaporean PMETs?
Does the Ministry have a support system and support group to engage the affected PMETs?
I received feedback from affected PMETs, that they have to start at a low level (in terms of salary and grade) in their new profession. While, the PMETs mentioned that they
are appreciative of the effort of the Government, they feel that it can be quite painful for them and their family having to see them, especially the main breadwinner, to start at a low level and having to live with a reduced salary. I urge them to be patient and encourage them to do well in their new career while I engage the Government to improve
2. A/P Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim: Firms on Watchlist and Close Scrutiny
During last year’s COS Debate, I raised the issue about Singaporean and foreign workers. I shared with the House that there are companies who have the local interests in their hearts, although they have a regular EP inflow. On the other hand, there are also companies whose hearts are not with our locals, where I received feedback that they use the locals in filling up the numbers and are not particularly interested in developing our local workers.
I am pleased that the Ministry has developed efforts to place companies on watchlist for weak commitment to the hiring of local Singaporeans. I would like to ask the Minister on the progress on efforts in looking at firms on this watchlist and close scrutiny. Can the Minister share the profile of these firms?
How have these efforts encouraged these firms to employ more Singaporeans? How have other firms responded to this signal?
3. Louis Ng: Introducing Giro payment for domestic workers
Salary disputes between domestic workers and their employers often arise because there are no records to prove whether payments were made correctly.
Further, while local employment agencies are only allowed to collect a maximum of two months’ salary as placement fees under the Employment Agency Act, domestic workers often have salary deductions which exceed that limit. These excessive deductions are often characterised as loan repayments for agency fees incurred in the worker’s home country, but the lack of any records make it difficult to determine if the deductions are legitimate or prohibited kickbacks.
Electronic payments would help authorities to determine if domestic workers are paid correctly and punctually, and begin to throw some light on the problem of excessive salary deductions. The Centre for Domestic Employees has announced its intention to push for electronic payment by GIRO or bank transfer for domestic employees which has also been welcomed by the Association for Employment Agencies.
Can the Ministry share if it has any plans to work with these two organisations in the implementation of such a scheme?
For the Ministry of Education
1. Louis Ng: Improving school attendance rates for neglected children
Primary school teachers whom I’ve spoken to report a number of cases where students do not attend school for long periods of time without valid reasons. There have been cases of parents or guardians brought to court for neglecting to send their children to primary school. It is understood that incarcerating the parent or guardian may put the child in further jeopardy. How then would the Ministry ensure that the Compulsory Education Act will be an effective deterrent for neglectful parents? How will the Ministry ensure the child is sent to school?
2. Kwek Hian Chuan Henry: Learning of Regional Languages & Culture
Even with the global economic uncertainty, and even as our own economy matures, our ASEAN region is full of opportunities.
For our youth to effectively tap on it, language and cultural understanding is key.
Will MOE consider offering ASEAN languages as a 3rd language option for more students?
Could MOE consider working with tertiary institutes, especially their business faculties, to strongly encourage students to learn ASEAN languages, culture and business culture?