Oral Answer by Mrs Josephine Teo Minister for Manpower to PQ on Helping Different Groups of Workers In Current Economic Conditions
NOTICE PAPER NO. 131 OF 2020 FOR THE SITTING ON 02 NOVEMBER
QUESTION NO. 292 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Ms Joan Pereira
To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry can require career coaches to handhold job seekers, especially our low wage workers, till they find jobs as it is reassuring to job seekers knowing that there are employment professionals they can turn to who can provide guidance and support to them.
NOTICE PAPER NO. 137 OF 2020 FOR THE SITTING ON 02 NOVEMBER 2020
QUESTION NO. 333 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Mr Desmond Choo
To ask the Minister for Manpower in view of the slowdown in the aviation sector, how will the Ministry help students majoring in aerospace, aviation and hospitality who are graduating in 2021.
NOTICE PAPER NO. 137 OF 2020 FOR THE SITTING ON 2 NOVEMBER 2020
QUESTION NO. 336 FOR ORAL ANSWER
MP: Sharael Taha
To ask the Minister for Manpower by the end of the Job Redesign Grant in March 2020 (a) what is the total number of applications received and how many jobs have been successfully redesigned for elderly workers; and (b) what are the lessons learnt that have been incorporated into the Job Growth Incentive to increase the participation of companies to redesign jobs for the elderly.
- I thank members for their concerns about different groups of workers and jobseekers in the current economic climate.
- The Government is providing substantial employment support to help Singaporeans stay in work, such as through the Jobs Support Scheme and programmes to help them be re-skilled and redeployed to new roles.
- Through the National Jobs Council, we have curated about 117,500 jobs and skills opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, to help local jobseekers acquire new skills to move into new careers or sectors. Around 33,100 jobseekers have been placed thus far, and the efforts are continuing. In this period of weakness in the job market, these efforts have been a very useful supplement to the normal recruitment activities that take place on their own.
Handholding Jobseekers, especially Low-wage Workers
- Ms Joan Pereira asked whether more personalised support can be given to jobseekers, especially low-wage workers. We appreciate this is not an easy time for jobseekers. To help them in their search, we have very quickly expanded the touchpoints to be readily accessible in every HDB town.
- When they first visit our touchpoints, jobseekers are provided with basic career advisory and job search assistance, and are also invited to take an assessment on their career readiness. Jobseekers may be assessed to require more intensive support before they are ready to start the job search, or may request for more support even if they are assessed to be ready. Such jobseekers are provided with one-to-one career coaching.
- Our career coaches provide tailored support to the jobseekers, which may include referring them to supplementary programmes, such as motivational or interview training workshops. At an appropriate time, career coaches will help match them to suitable opportunities. This process takes longer for some jobseekers than others. Our career coaches will hand-hold the jobseekers while helping them find their footing and gain independence. Post-placement, our career coaches conduct check-ins to ensure that they are settling well into their new workplaces.
- WSG has also been proactively reaching out to all applicants for the COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) and, together with the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the People’s Association, to families living in rental housing. Households that need employment assistance are referred to WSG. Through these targeted outreach efforts, about 6,000 individuals have taken up our career matching services, which may include one-to-one coaching for those less job-ready.
- Mr Sharael Taha asked how many senior workers have benefitted from the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant (JRG). From scheme enhancement in Jul 2016 to grant closure in Mar 2020, the JRG benefitted over 2,500 companies and 24,000 senior workers.
- With employers today having a better appreciation of job redesign to create more inclusive workplaces, we have discontinued WorkPro JRG. This does not mean there is no longer a need for job re-design, only that it can be equally well-supported through the Enterprise Development Grant and Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG). In fact, the PSG will be further expanded later this year to support job redesign consultancy services, on top of companies’ own job redesign efforts.
- Whether through the JRG or other programmes, the government will provide a higher level of support to employers of seniors to help such workers stay in work.
- For example, the recently announced Jobs Growth Incentive provides employers of new hires aged 40 and above double the wage support for other new local hires. The government will underwrite 50% of their salaries, up to the first $5,000, for 12 months. This comes on top of the Special Employment Credit for workers aged 55 and above.
- Where seniors need skills top-ups to be recruited or retraining to support business transformation, the level of funding is generally higher. Employers that formalise a higher retirement age or part-time re-employment in their HR policies can also enjoy grant support.
- These initiatives help to address employers’ concerns about the cost of seniors in their workforce and the practical adjustments they must make to have age-friendly workplaces. In every way possible, we will try to enhance the attractiveness of seniors so they can keep working if they wish.
Students in Aerospace-, Aviation- and Hospitality-Related Disciplines Graduating in 2021
- Mr Desmond Choo is looking ahead to next year. He asks what is being done to prepare students majoring in aerospace-, aviation- and hospitality-related disciplines who are graduating in 2021.
- Like Mr Choo, we are closely monitoring the employment outcomes of graduating students. MOE’s Graduate Employment Survey for graduates in 2020 will be published in the first quarter of 2021. This will give some indication as to the prospects for the cohort graduating in 2021.
- In the meantime, the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have started comprehensive career guidance and assistance programmes to prepare students who are graduating next year. In particular, they will get help to navigate adjacent career opportunities. We are organising career fairs that feature job openings in adjacent sectors which will make good use of the graduates’ education and skills. The IHLs are also introducing new electives for students to equip them with emerging cross-sector skills such as data analytics and visualisation, programming as well as digital marketing – skills which are generally sought after,
- As a pre-emptive move to supplement job availability, the Government introduced the SGUnited Traineeships Programme which has curated more than 21,000 traineeship places from about 3,300 host organisations. In general, employers are open to accepting good candidates across a range of disciplines. Candidates will also have better opportunities if they are open to trying out positions outside of the disciplines they are trained in, or look beyond positions that many applicants have focussed on. We will continue to watch the situation closely and adjust the programme accordingly.
- I understand the challenges that workers and jobseekers are facing at this time. Advance estimates for the third quarter show a rebound in local employment. Although there may still be retrenchments and job losses, it is not all doom and gloom.
- Pockets of businesses are recovering and hiring, and we will make every effort to help affected Singaporeans get back to work. This is what they usually want and central to how we sustain support for Singaporeans on an ongoing basis.