Over 110,000 local job seekers hired in first two months of Jobs Growth Incentive scheme

The Jobs Growth Incentive scheme aims to spur firms to hire more locals, with $1 billion set aside to provide wage support for these workers. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - More than 110,000 local job seekers were hired by 26,000 firms under a government scheme that subsidises wages in the first two months of its implementation.

This was double the 50,000 who were employed during the inaugural month of the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) scheme in September, according to preliminary estimates.

About half of them were aged 40 and above, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Monday (Feb 8).

Commenting on the response to the hiring scheme, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said during a visit to employment agency SearchAsia on Monday: "That is quite good momentum that we see there. It is as yet unclear how much of the hiring momentum will be sustained.

"We will continue to help the job seekers move into new roles and we also urge employers that still face difficulties in hiring to review their recruitment practices."

She added: "Given how uneven the recovery is likely to be, there could still be churn underneath top-line figures that look quite steady. So that's something that we have to keep in mind."

The JGI seeks to spur firms to hire more locals, with $1 billion set aside to provide wage support for these workers.

Firms that hire local workers from September last year to February this year will receive a subsidy of 25 per cent of the first $5,000 of their gross monthly salaries for up to one year.

The co-payment goes up to 50 per cent for workers aged 40 and above.

In total, eligible firms can receive up to $15,000 for each local hire aged below 40, and $30,000 for each local hire aged 40 and above.

MOM noted that the top hiring sectors included food services, wholesale trade, professional services, retail and construction.

In October alone, more than 11,000 new employers became eligible for the scheme.

The ministry added that about 80 per cent of some 14,000 companies that qualified for the scheme's payouts in September maintained or even expanded their local hiring in the following month.

The majority of all eligible employers hired one to two local workers, MOM noted, while about 20 per cent of them took in five local workers or more.

Asked if the scheme could be extended beyond February, Mrs Teo said MOM, the labour movement and employers have been in discussions with the Ministry of Finance.

She added that the Budget announcement on Feb 16 will touch on a range of schemes and the plans for each one.

Welcoming the upcoming schemes, National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Desmond Choo said: "We certainly look forward to programmes like a more targeted Jobs Support Scheme going ahead. And of course, if we can extend the JGI, especially for the more mature workers, I think that will be very helpful."

He also called on employment agencies to help locals find jobs that they might not have necessarily seen themselves in.

To facilitate this, MOM introduced the Human Capital Partnership (Employment Agencies) mark on Monday to recognise progressive employment firms that help companies strengthen their Singapore core, which complements the Government's efforts to boost local hiring.

Such firms can also help mid-career job seekers in particular, who might find it more challenging to be matched with employers, Mrs Teo said.

"Employment agencies can help the employers focus on the transferable skills and the relevant experiences of the candidates that they have from their database," she said.

"They can also help candidates to consider job roles and company positions that they may otherwise overlook... and highlight aspects of their past experience and skillsets to position themselves in a more compelling way."

SearchAsia, one of the first five recruitment firms that received the mark, said: "We have a natural affinity with locals because we are headquartered and listed here. Thus, we are able to play an effective role in managing expectations and closing gaps between employers and local employees during the talent acquisition process."

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