Many measures taken to help the unemployed

We refer to Mr Tan Soon Hock's letter (Are schemes enough to help S'poreans with unemployment; June 21).

As the employment landscape changes, the Government has continued to adjust and strengthen support for jobseekers.

Last year, the Adapt & Grow (A&G) initiative helped more than 25,000 locals find jobs, compared to about 21,000 in 2016. Over 480,000 jobseekers made use of online job portal MyCareersFuture.

Professional conversion programmes for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who wish to reskill and switch careers placed about 3,800 Singaporeans last year, almost three times higher than in 2016.

To complement employment facilitation programmes, we regularly update our foreign workforce policies to moderate the inflow of foreign workers.

For instance, we recently tightened the qualifying criteria for Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders. This resulted in a moderated growth of EP, S Pass and work permit holders from 2015 to last year, compared to the preceding three years.

Nearly eight in 10 PMET jobs created from 2015 to last year went to Singaporeans.

These initiatives and the strengthening economy helped bring down the unemployment rate for residents to 2.8 per cent in March, from 3.2 per cent a year ago.

The unemployment rate for permanent residents (PRs) is lower than that for Singaporeans because the PR eligibility criteria takes into account whether individuals have secured a job here and contribute to our economy.

On the effectiveness of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) - about 350 employers are on the FCF watchlist, where their EP applications are scrutinised. To date, 1,900 of their EP applications have been withheld, rejected, or withdrawn by the employers. More than 2,200 Singaporean PMETs were hired by such employers.

Mr Tan's observation of the significant growth of "Other Work Passes" between 2012 and last year can be attributed mainly to the reclassification of Letters of Consent, which enable the foreign spouses of Singaporeans to work, from "Work Permits" to "Other Work Passes". When these two groups of work permit holders are combined, the growth has been 0.2 per cent annually over the period.

We remain vigilant about the evolving employment situation, especially where jobs-skills mismatches intensify, and continuously review the effectiveness of our approach.

The public can visit www.adaptandgrow.sg for more details about the A&G initiative.

Terence Ho

Divisional Director

Manpower Planning and Policy Division

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'Many measures taken to help the unemployed'. Print Edition | Subscribe