Why It Matters

Jobs bank update timely

The government-run National Jobs Bank is getting a major update. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say announced this in Parliament on Monday, promising that the improved version will be "a one-stop and non-stop online marketplace".

The online jobs bank launched in July 2014 is already comprehensive. There are over 65,000 jobs now. Besides finding and applying for jobs, job seekers can also post their resumes for prospective employers and headhunters. Employers can post job openings, browse resumes and shortlist candidates.

The jobs bank also provides links to career guides and training courses, making it a one-stop portal. Being online, it is accessible 24/7, or non-stop.

So one wonders how substantial the improvement to the jobs bank will be.

The timing of the upgrade announcement is as important as the upgrade itself.

Economic growth is slowing and local employment growth - or the number of locals in jobs - has stagnated. Fears over the economy grinding to a halt and job losses are real.

The flurry of questions from MPs on Monday is a barometer of the public anxiety. It took three ministers close to two hours to answer more than 20 questions from MPs with a unified message: Fear not about the economy or the jobs market tanking; the Government is on top of the situation.

For workers and job seekers, having the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) lending its weight to upgrade the jobs bank guarantees its success.

After all, no one has a better reading of the jobs market than the MOM. It knows the new jobs in the pipeline and which sectors are still hiring.

While the details of the new portal may be sketchy, the intention is clear.

With the MOM putting in effort to improve what is already a comprehensive jobs bank, workers will be assured of getting help when the slowing economy eventually hits.

This should allay their fears over job losses.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline 'Jobs bank update timely'. Print Edition | Subscribe