Coronavirus: 10,000 jobs created through new initiative could come from ICT, logistics, cleaning

Office workers at Amoy Street Food Centre on March 26, 2020. The 10,000 jobs being created through the SGUnited Jobs initiative could be in such industries as infocomm technology, cleaning and logistics as well as the public sector.
Office workers at Amoy Street Food Centre on March 26, 2020. The 10,000 jobs being created through the SGUnited Jobs initiative could be in such industries as infocomm technology, cleaning and logistics as well as the public sector.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - The 10,000 jobs being created through the SGUnited Jobs initiative could be in such industries as infocomm technology, cleaning and logistics as well as the public sector.

Singapore Business Federation chief executive Ho Meng Kit said sectors that are still hiring could include security, cleaning, infocomm technology (ICT), manufacturing and engineering.

"These sectors are likely to have a fair share of both permanent and temporary positions, given the manpower challenges with the more severe travel restrictions imposed here and globally," he said.

He added that SBF will expand its SBF ManpowerConnect scheme - which links employers with excess Chinese work pass holders to those with a shortage - to include helping companies requiring Singapore resident workers.

OCBC chief economist Selena Ling said sectors like logistics may demand workers as people order more things online such as groceries and food, and electronics.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat had said on Thursday, when he announced the initiative, that the public sector will take the lead in speeding up hiring plans for roles in emerging areas, recruiting for long-term roles in essential services and offering temporary jobs to handle the increase in Covid-19-related operations.

The jobs must be immediately available to help people who need to get back to work quickly, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Friday (March 27).

About 3,000 jobs under the initiative were listed on Friday as part of a virtual career fair at SGUnitedJobs.gov.sg.

As of 4pm on Friday, almost 1,500 job applications had been received, said a spokesman for government agency Workforce Singapore (WSG).

Available jobs include customer service assistants, social service officers, relief teachers and ambulance drivers.

About 80 per cent of the vacancies are for temporary jobs of up to one year, said Mrs Teo, adding that the pay range of jobs on offer is $1,700 to $5,800 a month.

 
 

She said that although job seekers may prefer a permanent role, the initiative helps those who need to find a job immediately as they have children, mortgages, elderly parents or other money commitments.

Getting back to work quickly also puts workers in a better position to continue their career when the economy recovers, she said.

"Their resume continues to build up (as) they continue to be trained and continue to have relevant work experience," she said.

She noted that virtual career fairs enable job matching to continue amid the safe distancing measures rolled out to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The situation is different from that of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, when large-scale job fairs could be organised.

DPM Heng had also unveiled on Thursday an enhanced Jobs Support Scheme which provides employers a wage subsidy of 25 per cent for each local employee on the first $4,600 of monthly wages, with higher support of 50 per cent for those in food services, and 75 per cent for those in aviation and tourism. The original scheme had an 8 per cent wage subsidy.

Mrs Teo  said that it is too early to say how large an impact the new measures will make, but she assured Singaporeans that “if we need to do more, we will find some ways to do it”. 

Speaking to reporters after observing virtual networking sessions between employers and jobseekers at WSG’s office, she said the expected number of job vacancies and retrenchments this year had been a concern even before the covonavirus outbreak. 

Jobseekers or those displaced are likely to face some difficulties this year, she added. 

Therefore, the Government is not depending on any one single scheme but rather a whole range, with the top priority being to support employers to keep as many local employees as possible.

Mrs Teo said: “In doing so, we hope to minimise the number of businesses that will have to implement other cost-cutting measures, like wages, and possibly even displacing some of their workers.”

She added: “If you can keep that number as low as possible, then you have a better chance of helping (displaced workers) to move on to something else.”

She also said the National Wages Council, which typically releases recommendations for wage practices at end-May, will do so by end-March.

She said she has asked the council to discuss whether companies that implement shorter working hours should allow workers to take on a second job to boost their income.

 
 

On Friday, the volume of visitors to the virtual career fair seemed to be greater than expected as the site was inaccessible to this reporter at several points during the day.

The WSG spokesman said: "We seek the public's patience and understanding as there has been a very strong demand and our team continues to strengthen the SGUnited Jobs VCF (Virtual Career Fair).

"Should visitors experience any lag in the meantime, we encourage them to return to the site at a later time as the VCF is available till April 12, 2020. They may also visit MyCareersFuture.sg to access a wide range of permanent job opportunities."