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    Jul 29, 2016

    Help for PMETs to switch to international trading career

    WHEN Max Wong was previously selling solar film to people looking for more shade on their windows, he also kept a lookout for a higher recurring income and a sector with room to grow.

    In January, the 33-year-old took the plunge to become a trader at family firm Kims, where he now sells lubricant to international shipping firms.

    Kims is among 23 companies committed to hiring new recruits under the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for careers in international trade, which was launched yesterday by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore.

    The scheme can potentially place and train 300 people in three years.

    It targets professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), a group that has become more vulnerable to long-term unemployment amid a weakening global economy.

    It joins 33 existing conversion programmes in other sectors, which train mid-career professionals to switch industries.

    National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary general Patrick Tay welcomed the new programme, saying: "With the backdrop of lay-offs announced this morning and PMEs being affected, (I) hope this PCP can help PMEs take on a second career in trading."

    According to Manpower Ministry figures released yesterday, about 5,500 workers were laid off in the second quarter, a seven-year high.

    IE Singapore chief executive Lee Ark Boon called international trade, which moves commodities as diverse as oil, rice and rubber between countries, a growing sector with good career prospects.

    International trade is the second largest services sector here, and is expected to create 15,000 jobs by 2020, he said.

    About 63 per cent of those employed in the sector are PMETs.

    He added that the median wage in international trading is 10 per cent higher than the national median, which is close to $4,000.

    The International Trade PCP is developed together with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), Singapore Management University's International Trading Institute and the International Chamber Of Commerce Academy.

    WDA will fund 70 per cent of the course for local PMETs, as well as up to 90 per cent of their salaries, capped at $4,000 a month. This adds up to about $61,000 in funding for each trainee.