Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is trialling a ‘Returners Programme’ to get professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who took a break from working back into jobs.

Anyone who took a career break, including mothers, will be able to take advantage of paid job trials with a range of employers.

The Returners Programme was first discussed by the NTUC in January and has now advanced to the stage where the government is looking at ways to support the initiative, such as subsidising wages or having flexible working arrangements.

“The employers get wage support for a limited period when taking on a returning professional,” said Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo in a Facebook post. “This helps them take a bit of risk on someone who had been out of the workforce for a while. If the programme works out, they gain a valuable staff with good work experience.”

Teo went on to highlight a parliamentary debate earlier this year when MPs called for more support for working parents, standards for flexible work arrangements and a greater push for job sharing where possible.

She also wrote about Irene Lee, “who has been a homemaker for the last seven years and hoping to return to the workforce. Mrs Lee is happy and hopeful that the Returners Programme will help mothers like her make the transition,” said Teo.

Labour MP Desmond Choo commented through a Facebook post of his own, describing out-of-work PMETs as a “latent talent pool” with years of untapped experience.

He said employers may need support to make such initiatives commonplace, but was hopeful that the Ministry of Manpower would give funding to organisations that offer permanent positions to those who complete the paid job trials.

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