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Oral Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on University Graduates and older people in the workforce

Notice Paper No. 477 Of 2016 For The Sitting On 09 January 2017

Question No. 812 For Oral Answer

MP: Dr Lim Wee Kiak
To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) what is the Ministry's projection on unemployment for the first quarter of 2017; (b) what is the average waiting time for local and foreign university graduates to get into the workforce under current circumstances; and (c) how is the softer job market impacting on the older people who are in the workforce.


  1. The Singapore economy is projected to grow at a modest pace of 1 – 3% in 2017.
  2. The Ministry does not make forecasts of the unemployment rate. Nevertheless, amid current global economic conditions and continued economic restructuring, short-term fluctuations in unemployment rate are expected. Based on the annual Graduate Employment Survey coordinated by the Ministry of Education, around 9 in 10 graduates of our autonomous universities found jobs within six months from the completion of their final examinations in 2015. This is consistent with previous three cohorts.
  3. For older residents, both their employment and unemployment rates have moved up.
  4. In 2015, over 98% of local employees who wished to continue working were offered re-employment upon reaching the age of 62. This has contributed to the increase in the employment rate for local residents aged 55 to 64 to a high of 67.3% in June 2016. However, the unemployment rate for local residents aged 50 and above has also increased from 2.1% in Sep 2014 to 2.3% in Sep 2016. An increase of 0.2% over 2 years. There was also a corresponding rise in the long-term unemployment rate by 0.2%, from 0.8% to 1.0% over the same two-year period. The Government will continue to provide extra support to encourage the employment of older workers.
  5. These include the Special Employment Credit (SEC), which is a wage offset of up to 8% of monthly wages for hiring Singaporean workers aged 55 and above, and earning not more than $4,000. An additional wage offset of up to 3% is provided for those aged 65 and above.
  6. From 1 July 2017, the re-employment age will also be raised to 67.
  7. Under the Adapt and Grow initiative, we are also providing extra career and employment support to older workers, both rank-and-file and PMETs. Out of more than 11,000 workers placed by WSG and NTUC-e2i career centres in the first 9 months of 2016, 39% (2 in 5) were jobseekers aged 50 and above.
  8. MOM will continue to work closely with tripartite partners to extend support to all local jobseekers as we go through this period of economic transition.