Here’s what you really need to know about Budget 2016 or you’ll lose out

Have you been paying attention to Budget 2016 which was delivered by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat on 24 Mar 2016? If you haven’t, it’s okay. We’ll give you the lowdown and tell you what you can expect from Budget 2016.

The entire Budget for this year can be separated into four different areas: to grow Singapore’s economy, to invest in education & health, to have better connectivity between Singaporeans and, of course, to have better security for Singapore.

Now, we’ve previously written an article on why we should pay attention to the Budget announcement other than to hear about the GST Voucher. Given the global economy downturn and the rapidly changing industries we work in today, I’m sure most, if not all, of us has thought of this at least once: what if I lose my job because I’ve become obsolete?

Have you thought the same? Now, we won’t tell you this won’t happen, because whether you’ll become an asset or liability to your company is entirely up to you. But here’s what we think, as long as you put in effort to learn something useful, you’ll never be obsolete.

We can read your mind. Okay, we can’t, but you’re probably wondering why we’re so confident about this. Well, if you feel this way, and you’re exceptionally curious about why we say so, you’ll understand once you read about what we got for this year’s Budget.

More Investment in SkillsFuture
NTUC has recommended for the Government to continue top ups to the SkillsFuture initiative, to help us create the skills we need for the careers of our future, in view that the Singapore economy is restructuring and there is are skills mismatches observed between Singaporeans’ skills and what companies need.

The Government has answered, pledging to support the people in life-long learning and skills development under SkillsFuture.

Image: Facebook (Ministry of Finance (Singapore))
Image: Facebook (Ministry of Finance (Singapore))

The best thing about the entire programme is this: you can choose to develop whatever skills you’re interested in, and you won’t be confined by your current role. For example, you may be an accountant right now, but hey, if you’re interested in developing, say, some IT skills.

This will also allow you to chart your own career path as well, and avoid relying on welfare schemes or waiting for companies to take pity on you and give you a leg up!

Adapt & Grow Initiative
Just as firms are facing a rapidly transforming landscape, so too are our people. Just a couple of years ago, employers are happy to have employees who have working knowledge in Microsoft Office applications but today, when an interviewee say he knows how to navigate Microsoft Office applications, well, he’s told that it’s something expected of him, and if he has any other IT skills to contribute.

Top comic: Canary Pete
Top comic: Canary Pete

That is a simple, but true representation of how things has rapidly evolved in the span of a few years. As consumers’ habit changes, so too will the requirements of the firm. Today, software engineers are not as prevalent, and app developers are sought after.

If you have ever faced this issue before (we all did), then you’ll be psyched to hear about this Adapt and Grow initiative. In addition to SkillsFuture, wage support schemes are extended to those who were laid off and unable to find new employment. Professional Conversion Programmes will also be offered to more sectors (like Design and Infocomm Sector) to help PMEs who were laid off to get employment as soon as possible.

Ah Hock loved Michelle and asked her, ‘Ai stead mai?’ in the 90s. Today, he tried again but would it work? Prepare some tissue paper and watch their love story here:

However, these are temporary measures to help retrenched PMEs, in the end we still need to enhance our ability to learn and be relevant to our future employers.

But if most of us are confined to our current industry, how will we know what other industries are like?

This conundrum was highlighted by Labour MP Desmond Choo in his 2016 Budget speech. He recommended MOE to partner the Labour Movement to develop an integrated counselling system to tap on the unions’ network so that through industry networking, workshops and workplace visits, we can have up-to-date knowledge and better career navigation.

Mr Choo also asked the government to incentivize apprenticeships (instead of internships) so workers can learn what is practical and have real-time industry-relevant skills.

Apprenticeship Internship
Learn real-time industry-relevant skills Learn how to do odd-jobs
Hands-on problem-solving Filling in manpower gaps
Longer-term Shorter-term
Form relationships with skilled mentors Forgotten after internship is over
More likely to stay on the job

May not be offered a job or want to stay in the same company

Managed as skilled labour Managed as cheap labour
Paid based on skills Paid based on whatever company chooses

TechSkills Accelerator

Image: Kelly Services/Straits Times
Image: Kelly Services/Straits Times

If you’re wondering which sector is the most in-demand at the moment, it’ll probably be the InfoComm Technology or ICT sector. There will be 15,000 job vacancies required in “software and application development, network and infrastructure, cyber security and data analytics” by 2017.

But isn’t the ICT sector famous for employing foreign talents?

Desmond Choo emphasized the importance of building a strong Singaporean core in the ICT sector and asked the government how they can ensure young Singaporeans will not be crowded out of good jobs.

In response to his previous questions on what efforts are made to encourage more locals to join ICT and ensure that foreign manpower is not over-represented in this sector, MOM replied that IDA and the ICT industry are drawing up a sectoral manpower plan for Singaporeans to benefit from the growth in career opportunities in ICT.

So if you’re choosing your course for Poly or University, you’ll probably be interested in going to the ICT field.

Jurong as the new Innovation District
Now, Westies, rejoice! We used to be known as Pulau Jurong, the industry area where no one wants to stay at, and more recently, the “new” town in Singapore that’s been dying down. Well, if you thought the next exciting thing to come is the terminal for the Singapore-KL bullet train, you’re never more wrong.

Image: straitstimes.com
Image: straitstimes.com

In a drive to encourage innovation, Jurong will be transformed from an industrial area to an innovation district where researchers, students, innovators and businesses get together to create goods of the future. Sounds cool? You bet it does! Check out why we think it’s so frigging awesome to have an Innovation District right here in the west!

Caring for the young
Okay, previously for SG50, everyone were rushing to give birth because first, it’s damn cool for your baby to born on the Golden Jubilee year, and two, the bonuses and perks given for newborn babies on that year is frigging awesome.

For the newly wed couples, or soon-to-be-wed couples out there, don’t be sorry that you’ve missed out on SG50’s baby bonuses because what was announced in the Budget is going to blow you away anyway.

From Child Development Account (CDA) First Step Grant to Fresh Start Housing Scheme, you’ll probably exit this article, switch off the light and get back to work at making a baby with your partner. Maybe.

Image: singaporebudget.gov.sg
Image: singaporebudget.gov.sg

GST Voucher and Cash Special Payment
We’ve come to the most important point (for most of us that is) of the announcement: the GST Voucher. Given today’s turbulent conditions in the economy, the Government is giving a one-off Cash Special Payment GST Voucher on top of the normal voucher.

budget 1
Image: Image: singaporebudget.gov.sg

On top of the $300 voucher, you’ll receive an additional $200 Special Payment, bringing the amount up to a whopping $500. Of course, your income for YA 2015 must be lesser than $26,000 and you must be 21 years of age or older. Yes, this means most of you university students studying out there got the full amount. Lucky you!

Doesn’t this sound exciting? It does to us! So, be sure to check out all the resources you can get your hands on to plan, chart and advance your career.

The Goody Feed Team comprises either several in-house writers or an individual in-house writer who prefers to stay anonymous. The reason to stay anonymous is simple: a writer won’t want his girlfriend to read an article like “10 things boyfriends hate about their girlfriends”, right?