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COVID-19: $2 billion package to create 100,000 opportunities for workers – Heng Swee Keat

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announcing the Fortitude Budget in Parliament on 26 May. (Photo:YouTube screengrab)

SINGAPORE — The government has unveiled a $2 billion scheme to create almost 100,000 opportunities in jobs, traineeships and skills training, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Tuesday (26 May).  

Speaking in Parliament to unveil the $33 billion Fortitude Budget, Heng said the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package (JSP) will support the immediate needs of workers, and raise their skills for future jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The supplementary budget is the government’s fourth package of COVID-19 related financial measures. 

Heng said that the JSP will create 40,000 jobs, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training, for workers with different skill levels and career aspirations. 

Some 15,000 jobs will be created in the public sector, meeting long-term needs in early childhood education, healthcare and long-term care.

The opportunities to meet short-term needs will include jobs related to COVID-19 operations, such as healthcare declaration assistants and swabbers. 

Government agencies will be working with the private sector to create another 25,000 jobs, with openings in roles ranging from computer engineers to machine operators. 

On the 25,000 traineeship positions targeted this year, trainees may be placed in jobs with host companies by the end of their training periods. 

Of these, 21,000 will be from the SGUnited Traineeships programme, and another 4,000 from a new SGUnited Mid-Career Traineeships scheme.

The former programme is aimed at first-time local job seekers, where Workforce Singapore funds the training allowances with host companies for up to a year. More than a thousand host companies have indicated strong interest in the scheme, noted Heng, and the public sector is also keen to offer new traineeship opportunities. 

On the Mid-Career Traineeships scheme, agencies will work with interested companies to provide traineeships for mid-career job seekers and opportunities for them to learn new skills and switch to new careers.

(ILLUSTRATION: More jobs and skills opportunities under Fortitude Budget/Ministry of Finance)

The third component of JSP, or the SGUnited Skills programme, will allow some 30,000 job seekers to upgrade their skills while looking for a job. Participants can take industry-relevant and certifiable training courses full-time at subsidised rates. They will be able to use their SkillsFuture Credit for the courses, which will be held by companies and Continuing Education Training (CET) Centres, including Institutes of Higher Learning. 

Apart from being given attachments or participation in company projects, these participants will also be given a training allowance of $1,200 a month during their training.

Employers will be given additional incentive to hire local workers who have gone through eligible traineeship and training schemes. 

The incentive for eligible workers aged 40 will be doubled to cover 40 per cent of monthly salary over six months and capped at $12,000 in total. For eligible workers under 40, the incentive will cover 20 per cent of monthly salary over six months and be capped at $6,000.

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has agreed to Heng’s request to chair the National Jobs Council to oversee the implementation of the JSP.

“The National Jobs Council will be focussed on creating jobs and building deep skills. This important effort will be integrated with the work of the Future Economy Council on the overall upgrading of our economy, through the Industry Transformation Maps in each cluster,” said Heng.

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