New hiring scheme to focus on skills, not qualifications

Initiative aims to better match job seekers to employers amid workforce transformation

A scheme that encourages hiring based on skills instead of paper qualifications has been launched to better match job seekers to employers - part of a "all hands on deck" push to support workers and firms in coping with changes driven by Covid-19 and workforce transformation.

Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng said LinkedIn's new Skills Path initiative can help employers look past traditional criteria like degrees and past designations, and focus on skills that the worker has.

"This helps them broaden their talent pool and build a more diverse workforce," he said.

Backed by the National Jobs Council, the initiative will see LinkedIn suggest suitable opportunities to job seekers on its platform from next month based on their proven skills.

Job seekers pursuing roles through the programme can pick up the required skills with free learning courses on the professional social network and validate their skills after that.

Companies participating in the initiative include CapitaLand, foodpanda, Lazada, NTUC Enterprise, OCBC Bank and Zuellig Pharma.

Currently, six types of roles will be available under Skills Path: customer service personnel, data analysts, project managers, recruiters, supply chain coordinators and sales development professionals.

This initiative comes as more companies shift away from conventional hiring practices to plug their skill gaps amid the pandemic.

Last year, the Government worked with 240 partners, including groups from the community and the private sector, to tackle skills matching and retraining. This was 20 per cent more than in 2019, said Dr Tan at a Jobs Situation Report briefing on Friday.

Speaking at the same briefing, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo pointed out that from the third quarter of last year, there has been a steady drop in unemployment.

"Hopefully by the end of the year, not only employment would have returned to pre-Covid levels, which it did even last year, but unemployment would be able to come down," she said. "That takes care of the near-term concerns, but the structural shifts have not gone away, and the structural shifts are what we have to tackle."

And this includes equipping Singaporeans for growing sectors, such as the infocomm media sector, which has, in the past five years, outpaced Singapore's economy as a whole.

Even when GDP shrank by 5.4 per cent last year, the infocomm media sector actually grew 4.8 per cent, she said. About 40 per cent of the jobs that are expected to be created through investments that the Economic Development Board has secured over the next two years will also be digital roles, she added.

To equip new workers with the skills for this sector, institutes of higher learning have ramped up their digital disciplines.

"Compared with just three years ago, the intake has almost tripled," she said. "But what about the workforce that is already with us?"

Part of the solution involves continuing education and retraining, through programmes such as the SGUnited Jobs and Skills package, which was launched last year to tackle the anticipated labour market fallout from the pandemic.

"Just in info and communications alone, we helped 16,200 get placed into jobs, traineeships, attachments as well as other training opportunities," said the minister. But more than 20,500 jobs, traineeships, attachments and other opportunities are still available in the sector, she added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 15, 2021, with the headline New hiring scheme to focus on skills, not qualifications. Subscribe