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NEWS UPDATES 4 August 2010

Growth Program to benefit low-wage workers

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Singapore's labour movement has launched a S$40 million initiative aimed at increasing the productivity and skills and pay of low-wage workers.

The Inclusive Growth Programme replaces the five-year old Job Re-Creation Programme and is the first scheme to tap into the S$2 billion National Productivity Fund announced by the government earlier this year.

S$1 billion was injected into this fund for 2010.

Local retail chain Home-Fix is one of the first few companies to come on board the Inclusive Growth Programme.

Coming from the service industry, the company cannot rely on machinery to raise productivity.

Instead, they've been given S$60,000 to improve productivity through staff training.

From September, retail assistants here will be called Project Advisers. That's because they'll be armed with more than just product knowledge.

Low Cheong Kee, managing director, Home-Fix DIY, said: “It's not just the attributes of a product. For example, a painting package instead of just selling a can of paint the kind of service that we provide. We will cover the door, the under-coating, and we will recommend the painting brushes and all the equipment that come with it.

“And on a higher level, we can even provide painting packages for the customer. So it's about cross-selling and up-selling solutions for our customers."

The idea is that better service will be accompanied by higher sales and therefore improved productivity.

For a start, 40 staff from Home Fix will be trained and deployed to five stores.

Eventually, all 190 trained staff can look forward to pay increments of about 8 percent.

Unlike the Job-Recreation scheme, the new Inclusive Growth Programme is more comprehensive and covers sectors that are lagging behind the productivity drive.

These include, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.

In fact, about 60 per cent of the S$40 million fund under the Inclusive Growth Programme will go to these sectors.

The scheme is targeted at - but not restricted to - those earning a monthly pay of S$1,400 and below which make up the bottom 20 per cent of the workforce.

It will be administered by the Employment and Employability Institute or e2i.

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