SINGAPORE — Over the next year, Singapore is likely to see far fewer new job openings than jobs being lost, said Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday (3 June).
Singapore faces a major and urgent challenge in the next six to 12 months amid the bleak outlook for the global economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tharman predicted in a post on his Facebook page.
His comments come a week after Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat revealed on 26 May in Parliament that Tharman will chair the National Jobs Council to oversee the implementation of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package (JSP).
The $2 billion JSP aims to create 100,000 opportunities in jobs, traineeships and skills training, said Heng, who unveiled the $33 billion Fortitude Budget - Singapore’s fourth financial package to deal with the severe impact of the pandemic.
Tharman said in his post that many more people will be at risk of losing their jobs because of COVID-19, even as Singapore gradually reopens.
To meet the challenges, Tharman added, “Our basic aim: to defend jobs wherever we can, and help people bounce back into work when they lose their jobs.”
For people who cannot get a job, the authorities have to create other opportunities including temporary jobs, short and long internships, and other forms of training at workplaces.
Special attention will be paid to middle-aged and mature Singaporean workers, Tharman said.
Calling on everyone to adjust to the “new realities”, he added, “But no longer can employers think that someone is ‘too old to hire’. Or simply think that those with higher skills are ‘over-qualified’ or ‘not adaptable enough’.”
Tharman called on every employer to be part of the national team in overcoming the jobs challenge.
“Those who prefer to stay on the sidelines will find themselves being asked tough questions by MOM about how they are abiding by the Fair Consideration Framework,” he warned.
Singapore must “absolutely avoid” the situation in many other places, where unemployment keeps rising to 10% and beyond higher, and governments and people treat it as normal.
“We also cannot wait for the employment market to recover and to solve these problems on its own,” Tharman said.
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