Parliamentary panel calls for review of job help schemes to find out if they have been successful

The Adapt and Grow initiative helps match job seekers to suitable jobs and equip them with new skills.
The Adapt and Grow initiative helps match job seekers to suitable jobs and equip them with new skills.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A panel of MPs has asked the Government to review the efficacy of the various programmes rolled out to help Singapore workers find new jobs.

While the MPs acknowledge the complexity of measuring the success of such schemes, they feel the findings from a review could be used to design future programmes.

This is one of the recommendations in a report released on Thursday (Nov 16) by the parliamentary Estimates Committee, an eight-member group which examines the Government's Budget and suggests improvements.

One of the current schemes is the Adapt and Grow initiative, which helps match job seekers to suitable jobs and equip them with new skills.

The committee asked the Ministry of Finance (MOF) why some workers did not manage to find a job through the initiative, and if there was any follow-up on those cases.

MOF said Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) would continue to help registered job seekers until they found a job, declined further assistance, or became uncontactable.

The ministry also told the committee that job seekers, on their part, must be prepared to learn new skills to meet the requirements of their preferred jobs, while employers should give opportunities to job seekers who might not have the full set of skills and experience but were prepared to learn.

The committee also urged the Government to find ways to let more Singaporeans know about the available schemes.

Separately, it asked MOF how initiatives recommended by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) are being monitored. The recommendations include industry-specific roadmaps to transform various sectors such as retail and logistics.

In all, $4.5 billion has been set aside for the Industry Transformation Programme, and 14 of 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) have been launched as of Nov 15 (Wednesday).

MOF said the CFE initiatives are also subject to monitoring systems, similar to other government programmes.

Said committee chair Foo Mee Har: "With the significant investment of S$4.5 billion, the Committee expressed the need for robust KPIs, monitoring mechanisms, transparency and accountability of the various initiatives under CFE including ITMs."

The committee urged the Government to stay agile in adapting and updating regulations, to promote innovation and the adoption of new technology.

Each ITM should also include education and skills training, it said.

"It is critical that education and skills training are integral pillars of every ITM, with more efforts to be made on outreach to provide Singaporeans and local companies visibility of industry plans and schemes available to facilitate participation," said Ms Foo.

The committee also asked MOF about the effectiveness of productivity schemes in helping businesses, and abuses of the productivity and innovation credit (PIC) scheme.

MOF said the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) has audited 98,000 of 313,000 PIC claims made from 2011 to 2016.

Of these 98,000 claims, 64 per cent, or 63,000, were rejected upfront. About 29,400 were bona fide, but with 3,300 requiring clawback. The remaining 2,300 cases are still being audited.

For the 3,300 cases requiring clawback, Iras had recovered $20.6 million from 2,200 cases as at June. The recovery process is underway for the remaining cases.

The Estimates Committee comprises Ms Foo, six other People's Action Party MPs and Workers' Party MP Pritam Singh.