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270,000 S’poreans hired by 42,000 businesses under Jobs Growth Incentive scheme: MOM

SINGAPORE — After looking for a job for a month, Ms Jessica Szeto, 30, was apprehensive about starting a first full-time position in December last year.

The 270,000 Singaporeans hired under the Jobs Incentive Scheme as of February 2021 is more than double the number hired between September and November 2020.

The 270,000 Singaporeans hired under the Jobs Incentive Scheme as of February 2021 is more than double the number hired between September and November 2020.

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  • Of the new hires under the Jobs Growth Incentive scheme, more than 1,600 are persons with disabilities
  • The scheme was introduced in August 2020 to support employers to expand domestic hiring
  • It has been extended to September 2021
  • Manpower Minister Tan See Leng encouraged employers not to delay their hiring plans in hopes the scheme will be available indefinitely but to seize opportunities

 

SINGAPORE — After looking for a job for a month, Ms Jessica Szeto, 30, was apprehensive about starting a first full-time position in December last year.

“I was a little bit nervous but now I’m okay, much better.” Ms Szteo packs food products to be delivered to customers and works as a server at The Social Kitchen, a social enterprise that hires persons with disabilities and mature workers.

She had gained confidence in her role after receiving training and help from her colleagues, she added.

Ms Jessica Szteo, 30, who was hired by The Social Kitchen with support from the Jobs Growth Incentive scheme. Photo: The Social Kitchen

Ms Szteo, who has Down syndrome, is one of seven staff members with special needs hired at The Social Kitchen, which received support to hire her under the Jobs Growth Incentive scheme.

Ms Avelyn Lee, director of The Social Kitchen, said that more than 10 of her 24 employees were hired under the scheme, since its first outlet opened at the YMCA on Orchard Road in September.

“The Jobs Growth Incentive scheme helped us to have a runway in the sense that they lowered our capital required (to expand our business). So when we were offered a lot of opportunities to open up more cafes, in order for us to expand, we will need to recruit more staff.

“And this scheme has definitely lightened the financial burden so that we are able to onboard them and expand aggressively. We started from one outlet and now we have six. The seventh will open in September,” Ms Lee said.

Hiring persons with disabilities has its challenges, Ms Lee said, because some of them are working for the first time and are “usually a bit afraid, worried and concerned”.

However, nurturing, training and counselling this group helps build their confidence and improve their self-esteem, she noted.

The Social Kitchen was featured in the latest jobs situation report by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) — the 22nd edition.

The report highlighted that as of February this year, more than 270,000 Singaporeans have been hired by 42,000 businesses — 99 per cent were small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) — to expand their resident workforce with support from the Jobs Growth Incentive scheme.

Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said: “This is more than double the number of local hires supported by the Jobs Growth Incentive scheme between September and November 2020.” 

Of these new hires, more than 1,600 are persons with disabilities, he added.

Food services, environmental sciences and wholesale trade are the top hiring sectors for persons with disabilities, accounting for slightly more than four in 10 of the hires who were persons with disabilities supported by the scheme.

“Similar to the general hires, about six in 10 were not employed at the point of hire, and more than half had been out of work for more than six months. They can enter the workforce and enjoy meaningful work,” Dr Tan said.

The Jobs Growth Incentive scheme was introduced in August last year to support employers to expand domestic hiring and has been extended to September this year.

MOM said it was encouraged that the resident unemployment rate had fallen from 4.8 per cent in September last year to 4.1 per cent in February this year.

Under the scheme, employers hiring eligible residents can receive up to S$15,000 for each worker. Those hiring mature workers, persons with disabilities and ex-offenders from March 1 this year onwards will receive higher support of up to S$54,000 for each worker.

Under the enhanced scheme, eligible employers will receive up to 50 per cent wage support for the first S$6,000 paid to each resident worker aged 40 and above hired between March and September this year, for up to 18 months.

Employers across the economy benefited from the scheme, Dr Tan said, noting that of the hires supported by the scheme, four in 10 were in growth sectors such as wholesale trade, professional services, and information and communications. One in five were in food services and retail.

The report also found that employers eligible for the scheme have hired from a wide pool of jobseekers, including the unemployed, those from different sectors and mature workers.

“It is clear that this group of employers, the majority of them SMEs, were willing to look beyond 'plug-and-play' workers. They were open to hiring workers from different sectors who may not have the obvious relevant experience, but on closer inspection and consideration, they found that these workers possessed valuable transferable skills.

“This openness to consider suitable hires from a wider pool of jobseekers is key in the current climate where there is rapid change, transformation and digitalisation. So, I hope that more employers and jobseekers will have the open mindset and flexibility to adjust and acquire new skills for emerging areas,” Dr Tan said.

When asked if the scheme will be expanded or tapered to certain sectors given the improving unemployment rate, Dr Tan said that despite the more positive news reflected in the report, the country is “not out of the woods yet”.

“We also went into a heightened alert phase in May, June, so we need to see the situation coming out subsequently. My hope is to encourage employers not to delay their hiring plans in the hopes that this scheme will be available indefinitely but to take on the opportunities and to seize them,” he said.

Related topics

Jobs Growth Incentive Scheme MOM Covid-19 coronavirus jobseekers employers

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