Over 15,000 workers placed in short-term Covid-19 roles since pandemic started

These workers were placed under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package to support Covid-19 operations.
These workers were placed under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package to support Covid-19 operations.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Since the start of Covid-19, more than 15,000 workers have been placed in public sector or government-funded short-term roles, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng in Parliament on Monday (July 26).

These workers were placed under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package to support Covid-19 operations such as swabbing or quarantine procedures, implementing safe management measures and providing patient services.

He was responding to questions by Mr Sharael Taha (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan (Sengkang GRC), who asked about the Government's plans for workers in these temporary roles beyond the pandemic.

Dr Tan said that among those placed in short-term Covid-19 jobs, about three in 10 were temporarily redeployed as part of the National Jobs Council's effort to support workers in hard-hit areas.

For example, some Singapore Airlines flight attendants worked as care ambassadors in hospitals.

"These workers remain employees of their parent companies and most of them are expected to return to their parent companies when demand recovers," he said.

Other workers, including those who will not return to their previous jobs due to reduced demand or personal choice, can be helped by job matching services and the Ministry of Manpower's ecosystem, he added.

He noted that Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute collectively placed close to 55,000 workers in suitable opportunities last year.

"It is therefore not beyond the ability of this network to facilitate their job search and to help them find placements in new sectors or activities where demand is rising," he said.

Mr Sharael also asked about training these workers, in case they struggle to find new employment after leaving their pandemic-related roles.

Dr Tan replied that companies which hired short-term workers are encouraged to convert them or to support them in going for training so they can find longer-term job opportunities.

Employers themselves should also consider a wider range of job seekers, he said, instead of just the "plug and play" mindset, a reference to going for only trained hires who fit perfectly into a job role.

"We would encourage employers to open up, to consider hiring (such workers), bringing them on board and placing them collectively in training opportunities that the Government has set aside," he added.

Meanwhile, job seekers should also keep an open mind on new opportunities and consider less familiar roles, he said.