Singapore’s Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo on Tuesday (5 January) cautioned against “expecting any one single scheme” to deliver on the government’s objectives when it comes to employment.
Mrs Teo was responding to Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Gerald Giam’s question on whether Mrs Teo’s ministry has a target figure for the number of secured jobs for mature workers under the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) scheme.
Mr Giam also asked the minister if the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) would consider increasing the support threshold under the scheme to 75 per cent in order to incentivise more employers to hire local workers instead of migrant workers.
Mrs Teo expanded on her statement, saying: “Overall, as a Government, our aim must be to try and expand employment and bring down unemployment.”
“To do so, many factors have to be aligned. For example, the overall economic conditions and business confidence must be there,” she added.
The JGI scheme was introduced in August last year by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, through which the Government has allocated S$1 billion to support businesses -– especially those that continue to perform well despite the impact of COVID-19 -– in hiring Singaporeans.
Under the scheme, for each new local hire aged below 40, the Government will co-pay 25 per cent of the first S$5,000 of gross monthly wages for 12 months from the month of hire. On the other hand, for each new mature local hire aged 40 and above, Government support is doubled to 50 per cent.
In total, eligible firms can receive up to S$15,000 for each local hire aged below 40, and S$30,000 for each local hire aged 40 and above, MOM said.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Mrs Teo explained that the JGI was introduced to encourage employers to expand hiring, adding that relying solely on the scheme to fill positions that require higher skills will not do the trick.
“You can put the incentives in front of the employers but from the employers’ perspective, there is no point in whether it is bearing 25 per cent, 50 per cent or 75 per cent of the wage cost if this person who is brought on board isn’t able to perform as part of the team and help the business advance,” she said.
She also added that the Government has allocated S$1 billion for the scheme and “will look at the take-up rate and make adjustments if it is necessary to do so”.
Additionally, the Manpower Minister also noted that jobseekers aged 40 and above are well represented among those placed in opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, adding that this age group comprises 50 per cent of job placements and 35 per cent of traineeships and attachments as well as training opportunities.
“We have consistently provided more support to help mature workers make career transitions. In the Unity Budget, we introduced the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package for locals in their 40s and 50s to help stay employable and enter new jobs or new industries.
“This provides enhance support of up to 90 per cent of the cost for employers to reskill mature new employees, as compared to generally up to 70 per cent for other new employees,” she said.
Acknowledging that mature individuals “have valuable skills and bring with them a wealth of work experience”, Mrs Teo said that the government also provided an additional S$500 SkillsFuture credits for those aged 40 to 60 in 2020 “to refresh their skills and enhance their employability”.