SINGAPORE — As the country gears up to tackle its single-biggest challenge in decades, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (26 March) announced a raft of measures to further cushion workers from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than one-third of the over $48 billion Resilience Budget is dedicated to saving jobs and supporting workers. “Our immediate priority is to save jobs, support our workers, and protect livelihoods,” said Heng.
An SGUnited Jobs Initiative aims to create 10,000 more jobs over the next one year, and the public sector will take the lead by accelerating hiring plans for long-term, permanent roles, as well as offer short-term temporary jobs to deal with COVID-19 related operations.
“At the same time, we are working with the Singapore Business Federation and Trade Associations and Chambers to identity private sector job opportunities,” said Heng.
Meanwhile, Workforce Singapore (WSG) will launch an SGUnited Jobs virtual career fair on Friday online at MyCareersFuture.sg with more than 2,200 short-term temporary vacancies immediately available.
Help for first-time jobseekers
The Government will also launch a SGUnited Traineeships programme to help first-time jobseekers to help them develop skills and boost their employability.
“First-time jobseekers may be concerned about the current job market These include our students who have just graduated or are graduating from ITE, polytechnics, and universities this year,” said Heng.
WSG will co-share manpower costs with enterprises that offer traineeships targetted at local first-time jobseekers this year.
The Government aims to support up to 8,000 traineeships this year, including science and technology traineeships in research and development labs; deep-tech startups; as well as accelerators and incubators. The manpower ministry will announce more details later.
Helping workers stay employed
To help workers stay employed, the Government will significantly enhance and extend the Jobs Support Scheme. All in, $15.1 billion will be allocated to supporting 1.9 million local employees under the scheme.
For every local worker in employment, the Government’s co-funding will increase from 8 per cent to 25 per cent. Firms in the food services sector will receive higher support at 50 per cent of wages, and companies in the aviation and tourism sectors - the most badly affected - will receive support at 75 per cent of salaries.
The monthly qualifying wage ceiling will be raised from $3,600 to $4,600 - the median wage in Singapore.
Direct cash aid for self-employed
For self-employed persons in a range of industries - such as taxi and private hire car drivers, real estate agents, media and art freelancers, and sports coaches - the Government will provide direct cash assistance under a Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme.
Those eligible will get $1,000 a month for nine months and the Government will set aside $1.2 billion for this.
“Overall, we expect to reach out to most of the self-employed persons who depend on self-employment for their livelihood and have less means and family support,” said Heng. The manpower ministry will provide more details later.
The Government will also set aside $48 million to extend the Self-Employed Person Training Support Scheme till December, and enhance the hourly training allowance from $7.50 to $10 from 1 May. Currently, training subsidies cover up to 90 per cent of course fees. Trainees will also be able to tap on their SkillsFuture Credits to offset course fees.
“Looking ahead, we will see how we can better support self-employed persons in strengthening their financial security. We will study this carefully,” said Heng.
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