Why It Matters

New employment matching programme for job seekers

A new employment matching programme rolled out this week is part of efforts to help job seekers cope with ongoing economic uncertainty. The R3 (Recruit, Reskill, Retain) programme aims to reach at least 600 job seekers in its three-month pilot phase and link them with jobs in the North East District.

Employers who hire them will get government funding to send them for training. In addition, career support will be provided by statutory board Workforce Singapore (WSG) to both fresh hires and their supervisors to help the new staff settle in.

Community job matching services like this by WSG, North East Community Development Council (CDC) and Our Tampines Hub are welcome, with fewer job openings to go around. They benefit, for example, those who must go home during the workday to take their aged parents for medical appointments.

The idea of matching residents to jobs in their neighbourhoods is not new. Last year, South West CDC started a programme to help people find work no farther than three bus stops or train stations away from where they live.

North East CDC has had a community employment programme in place since 2011, which pays residents a stipend and places them in transition jobs like manning mobile library kiosks, while they search for permanent work. The new scheme is different in that the jobs are long-term roles and can be for professional, manager, executive and technician (PMET) as well as rank-and-file positions. It also incentivises bosses to take on people without much relevant working experience and then raise their skill levels, as training fees will be highly subsidised.

If the pilot for the new initiative proves successful and the programme is rolled out nationwide, it can make a difference, especially to PMETs who want to better balance family commitments with work.

And as Singapore adapts to slower employment growth, such schemes can also provide a way for companies to draw talent back into the workforce. A challenge will be to ensure that the jobs on offer are attractive to Singaporeans.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'More help for job seekers'. Print Edition | Subscribe