Singapore embarks on 'epic challenge' to help job seekers

All 24 towns to have satellite career centres; new pathways for jobs

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo wiping down the microphone and podium after answering questions in Parliament yesterday as Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad stepped up to speak. Perspex screens were set up in the House as part of safe dista
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo wiping down the microphone and podium after answering questions in Parliament yesterday as Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad stepped up to speak. Perspex screens were set up in the House as part of safe distancing measures.PHOTO: GOV.SG

As an economic storm gathers on its doorstep, Singapore is preparing to meet it and do all it can to create pathways and opportunities for job seekers, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said yesterday.

To help both fresh entrants to the job market and those who might find themselves seeking employment as a fallout of the Covid-19 slowdown, the Government aims to set up satellite career centres in all 24 Housing Board towns. This will help job seekers find the most suitable pathway for them, she said.

There are now five career centres islandwide as well as partnerships with the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), social service offices, community development councils, and self-help groups. Job seekers can also get help online on the MyCareersFuture.sg portal.

"We will spare no effort to open up new pathways for job seekers and guide them appropriately," said Mrs Teo.

"But for matches to happen, I urge job seekers to keep an open mind - stay open to pathways that you would not have considered previously. Give the employers a chance and give yourself a chance."

She was joined by Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran and labour chief Ng Chee Meng in setting out the Government's push to secure jobs and career opportunities for Singapore's workers in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.

The schemes introduced under the Budget and supplementary Budgets are helping to save jobs and livelihoods, said Mrs Teo.

"If we did not have this cover, we would already be drenched in soaring unemployment, as can be seen in some countries," she said.

Still, Singapore must gear up for further job losses, she added.

She said there will have to be a big push for pathways to help three groups of workers: retrenched and mid-career people from all sectors; fresh graduates like those from the Institute of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities; and self-employed people.

These pathways will come through the nearly 100,000 opportunities - jobs, traineeships and skills-training places - which the Government aims to generate in the next 12 months. This is more than triple the number of locals placed in jobs every year recently by Workforce Singapore and its partners.

 
 
 
 

Underscoring the magnitude of the target, Mrs Teo said there will likely be many more job seekers than vacancies as employers will be hesitant about hiring now.

"As a millennial might put it, it's an epic challenge to create new pathways for 100,000 people under such circumstances," she said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ng, the NTUC secretary-general, said more than 10,000 workers who were displaced or at risk of losing their jobs have been matched with new roles by the NTUC's Job Security Council in the past few months.

Mr Iswaran also announced more efforts in the nation's digital push - a total of 5,500 jobs will be created for Singaporeans over the next two to three years in the thriving infocomm technology sector, while companies in sectors badly hit by Covid-19 will receive up to $10,000 each if they adopt digital solutions, such as e-commerce platforms, under a new scheme.

Underlining how Singapore is prepared to meet the oncoming difficulties, Mrs Teo said: "We should gear up for a storm... we should not underestimate how rough the weather could be."

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will round up the debate on the supplementary Budget in Parliament today.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2020, with the headline 'Singapore embarks on 'epic challenge' to help job seekers'. Subscribe