SINGAPORE - A scheme to spur firms to hire more local workers by subsidising their wages will be extended by another six months to March next year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced on Friday (Sept 24).
The scheme, known as the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI), has supported the hiring of nearly 400,000 locals by 58,000 firms as at May.
The JGI was first introduced last September to support hiring during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was extended to September this year during the Budget to support more employers.
Now, the qualifying window for the next phase of the JGI will stretch from October this year to March next year, to aid recovery amid an improving labour market and support employers in expanding their local hiring, MOM said.
But support levels will be tapered down in line with improving conditions, it added.
From October, eligible employers will receive wage support of 15 per cent of the first $5,000 for up to six months, up to $4,500 per hire aged below 40.
For mature hires aged 40 and above, people with disabilities and former offenders, the wage support will go up to 50 per cent of the first $6,000 for up to 12 months, up to $36,000 per hire.
On the sidelines of a visit to contact lens manufacturer Alcon Singapore on Friday, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told reporters: "We expect the road ahead to continue to be uneven. So to secure the recovery and support our local jobseekers, we will extend the scheme by another six months."
But he emphasised that it is an "extraordinary measure" and not a permanent scheme.
"I would like to encourage employers who have growth plans to accelerate and bring forward their hiring of locals, and do so within the extended qualifying period," he added.
Dr Tan noted that as at May this year, the JGI supported the hiring of nearly 400,000 locals by 58,000 businesses.
This was an increase of about 128,000 JGI-supported hires as at February.
Nearly all these businesses were small and medium-sized enterprises, he added. About half of the businesses hired one to two local workers, while the rest hired more.
The scheme has also supported hiring across a wide range of sectors, Dr Tan said.
About four in 10 workers hired were in growth sectors, such as wholesale trade, professional services, and information and communications.
Meanwhile, one in five were in the recovering food services and retail sectors.
"The JGI-eligible employers have continued to hire from a wide pool of jobseekers," he said. "I'm very encouraged to observe that our employers continue to keep an open mind when it comes to hiring, and they have the confidence in the ability of our workers to adapt to the changing environment and job demands."
About six in 10 hires were previously employed in a different sector.
Half of the 400,000 JGI-supported hires to date were also not employed at the point of hire and about one-third had been out of work for more than six months.
Six in 10 of the hires under the scheme also ended up earning the same or higher wages compared with their previous jobs.
With more support for mature workers aged 40 and above, close to half of the hires under the scheme fell into this age group, Dr Tan said.
One-third were also aged 50 and above.
Dr Tan also cited Workforce Singapore schemes, such as the career conversion programme, for supporting Alcon in hiring more locals to meet its growing manpower demand. Alcon also hired 28 staff under the JGI.
The company expanded its contact lenses manufacturing line here, and hired 40 workers through career conversion programmes to meet its growing capacity.
Altogether, Alcon has hired 160 mid-career locals through such programmes, for roles such as calibration engineer, microbiologist and senior technician in preventive maintenance.
"I strongly encourage all workers and jobseekers to continually reskill and stay open to new opportunities in this ever-changing environment," Dr Tan said.
"It is important to always keep (up) hope. Together, we can achieve better outcomes for everyone."
When asked if the JGI will be extended further, Dr Tan said the important thing is to continue nudging firms with growth plans to bring forward hiring, and not wait for further extensions.
"Rather than commit to a particular stance, I think it's better for us to be nimble and see how the market, industry and economy behaves, and then use the appropriate policy to support... our fellow Singaporeans. I think that would be a more targeted, more focused and more precise measure," he said.