In the next three years alone, 9,000 more workers will be needed with the opening of the Sengkang General and Community hospitals and five new polyclinics, she told The Straits Times.
Half of these requirements will be for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), she said.
PMETs have been hit the hardest by the slump in employment, making up almost two-thirds of those unable to find a job within six months of being unemployed. The number of people facing such long-term unemployment went up 36% from 12,700 in 2015 to 17,000 in 2016.
Thousands of unemployed PMETs are aged 40 and older. The impending demand for healthcare workers will be part of the solution to the rise in long-term unemployment, Khor said.
She said: "We're particularly interested in the 40-plus (age group) simply because they have a harder time making a career switch. We want to make the transition a little easier."
The ministry is matching Singaporeans to jobs in healthcare – one of five sectors identified by the government affected by disruptive technology, but also have significant potential for growth. Other industries are infocomm and media, wholesale trade, professional services and financial services.
Job openings in healthcare include therapists, care coordinators and centre managers, although the bulk will be in nursing because of the ageing population. Switching to healthcare, however, has a drawback in terms of lengthy training. Nurses spend two years in school and two years training on the job.
The government is stepping in with incentives for older workers wanting make career switches: The Professional Conversion Programme gives them an allowance of up to $2,420 a month, depending on the job and their work experience. Course fees, which could be as high as $40,000, is either heavily subsidised or fully funded.
She said the number of people converting to nursing went up from 21 a year over the last three years, to 34 in April this year.
The ministry is also providing incentives to employers who provide workers with practical experience. For instance, an employer who takes in a registered nurse for two years of on-the-job training is given $16,000.
Meanwhile, Khor assured fresh they need not worry that mid-career people will deprive them of jobs in the healthcare sector.
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Thousands of jobs in the healthcare sector will be available in the coming years, including those for older, mid-career workers with no experience in the field, according to Singapore Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor.