More than 270,000 locals hired under Jobs Growth Incentive scheme in first six months

SINGAPORE'S Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) supported the hiring of more than 270,000 workers in its first six months, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in an update.

The figure, which was released on Wednesday, includes the 130,000 locals who found work under the JGI from September to November 2020, as previously disclosed by the MOM.

Speaking to the press, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng described the job growth trajectory as a sustainable uptrend "over the longer term".

With almost all of the roughly 42,000 participating employers either small or medium-sized enterprises, Dr Tan added that he was glad "the support has given these businesses the confidence to hire despite the crisis".

Half of the locals hired under the JGI were not employed at the time, with about one-third out of work for more than six months by then.

Most hires were made in the wholesale trade, professional services, information and communications, food services, and retail sectors, similar to the trend in the first three months.

Calling most of these industries "growth areas" for the economy, Dr Tan said: "They are new jobs that are being created, they are new opportunities that are being created, and it is a function also of our own citizens making a sustained effort."

The JGI offers up to 12 months of salary co-payment for most new local hires, or up to 18 months of support for mature workers, people with disabilities and former offenders.

In the first six months of the scheme, the MOM noted that nearly half of the new hires were aged 40 and above, with one-third aged at least 50 years.

Meanwhile, more than 1,600 people with disabilities were hired under the JGI, primarily in the food services, environmental services and wholesale trade industries.

Some S$1 billion was set aside for the JGI when it kicked off in September 2020, with another S$5.2 billion added to extend the scheme in the Budget this February.

Hiring under the first phase of the scheme had to be made by end-February 2021, while the second hiring window runs from March to September 2021.

Dr Tan stressed that the JGI is "an extraordinary measure" rolled out for the unprecedented crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic, "but it is not a permanent scheme".

Asked whether the government has plans for a further extension or a winding-down of the programme, he said: "We are also taking into consideration the potential economic, labour market situation as well as the outlook" as it reviews the JGI.

Still, he urged employers "not to delay their hiring plans in the hope that this JGI will be available indefinitely but to take on the opportunities and to seize them now".

Singapore's resident unemployment rate stood at 3.8 per cent in May - when there were 88,600 unemployed local residents - down from 4.1 per cent in February.

"Nevertheless, as unemployment remains elevated compared to before Covid-19, MOM encourages employers to take full advantage of the JGI to meet their manpower needs," the ministry added in the 22nd edition of its ad-hoc Jobs Situation Report.

Dr Tan was speaking to reporters over a videoconferencing platform while on a visit to social enterprise The Social Kitchen at Jurong Bird Park. It was his first Jobs Situation Report presentation since taking over at the MOM in May.

The Social Kitchen - an eatery that qualified for the higher tier of JGI support for hiring disabled and older workers - has teamed up with booking platform Traveloka to provide a thousand plant-based burgers to Changi Airport Group frontline staff.


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