Parliament: New measures to help unemployed Singaporeans and employers who take them on

Office workers at Robinson Road in the CBD. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - A slew of new measures will be put in place to help unemployed Singaporeans find jobs and encourage employers to hire them.

At the same time, employers that have higher ratios of foreign professionals compared to their industry peers and do not have concrete plans to boost the ranks of Singaporean staff can have their work pass applications curbed, said the Manpower Ministry.

For these firms, the ministry will introduce a new criterion in deciding whether to approve their work pass applications: whether they are making significant economic and social contributions.

These were among policy changes announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say at the debate on his ministry's annual budget in Parliament on Friday (April 8).

"We stand a better chance of beating the competition, winning good investments and jobs if our local and foreign manpower here work together as one Singapore Workforce... rather than as two competing workforces," said Mr Lim.

Nationwide, 21 per cent of jobs within the Employment Pass salary range of $3,300 and above are filled by foreigners, and the growth of Employment Pass holders has slowed to 9,000 in 2015, down from 32,000 in 2011, he added.

To further strengthen the local workforce, Singaporeans under 40 looking for jobs as professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) after being made redundant, and who have been unemployed for more than six months, will come under an expanded scheme, the Career Support Programme, from next month.

Employers who hire them can have the salaries subsidised for 20 per cent for six months and 10 per cent for another six months. Those 40 and above will not have to wait for six months of unemployment to come under the scheme.

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To help workers switch jobs within and across sectors, a career conversion programme will be expanded to more sectors like pharmaceuticals, logistics and retail.

Finally, under the P-Max programme, more partnerships with trade associations should also help find work for over 1,000 PMETs in small and medium sized enterprises each year, up from 800 over the first year of the programme.

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