Singapore aiming for better jobs and safer workplaces in post-pandemic recovery: Tan See Leng

The Government is committed to ensuring that a post-pandemic future of work entails better jobs and safer workplaces for all.
The Government is committed to ensuring that a post-pandemic future of work entails better jobs and safer workplaces for all.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Republic welcomes the International Labour Organisation's call for countries to work together so that the global recovery from Covid-19 is inclusive, sustainable and resilient, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng on Wednesday (June 16).

On its part, the Singapore Government is committed to ensuring that a post-pandemic future of work entails better jobs and safer workplaces for all, said Dr Tan at the annual International Labour Conference.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO), a United Nations agency, brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member states to set labour standards, develop policies and create programmes promoting decent work for people.

This year's conference from June 7 to 19 was held virtually for the first time, and focused on work issues including a human-centred recovery from the pandemic.

Dr Tan said that Singapore is focusing on three key areas, guided by the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work.

The declaration in 2019 called on member states to develop a "human-centred approach to the future of work" by investing in areas such as gender equality, maximum limits on working time and policies and incentives that promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The first area Singapore will focus on is an inclusive recovery, said Dr Tan, adding that the Singapore Government has set aside nearly $100 billion to help workers and businesses.

Of this, more than $25 billion has been disbursed under the Jobs Support Scheme to offset wages and save jobs.

"This has benefited the majority of our workforce of over two million workers in more than 150,000 firms," he said.

Close to 200,000 self-employed people have also received cash payouts amounting to $9,000 per person under the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme.

"For lower-wage workers, our aspiration is to cover all sectors with progressive wages, to upgrade their skills and uplift their wages. We are also providing levy rebates and waivers to help employers retain migrant workers and to protect their livelihoods," added Dr Tan.

Another area of focus is to develop a resilient and adaptable workforce, with Singapore's tripartite partners working together to help job seekers affected by the pandemic gain industry-relevant experience in key growth sectors, he added.

Nearly 93,000 workers had found new opportunities in jobs and skills placements under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills initiative by the end of February.

The Jobs Growth Incentive also provides wage offsets to support hiring in growth sectors, said Dr Tan.

Employers can receive up to $15,000 per non-mature hire, and up to $54,000 for each worker aged 40 and above hired.

Singapore's tripartite partners have drawn up 23 Industry Transformation Maps, covering more than 80 per cent of the economy, to adapt to long-term structural economic shifts.

These plans guide employers in various sectors in seizing opportunities in the future economy and to upskill workers to prepare for emerging jobs.

Singapore will also adopt a "sustainable approach to ensure safe and decent work for all", said Dr Tan.

This includes safe management measures and initiatives such as a Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-being at Workplaces to prioritise the mental health of staff.

The Government has also partnered non-governmental organisations to launch Project Dawn - a task force to improve migrant workers' awareness of and access to mental health assistance.

Singapore will also do its part to support the region's preparations in answering the ILO's call to "work for a brighter future", through its Regional Centre for the Future of Work.

The centre aims to boost regional collaboration so as to prepare Asean countries for the changing nature of work.

It was launched in September last year by then Manpower Minister Josephine Teo.

Dr Tan said: "We welcome further opportunities to work with the ILO and we reaffirm Singapore's commitment to host the 17th Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting in 2022."