Singapore: Jobs Growth Incentive extended to March 2022 but support reduced: MOM

THE government is extending the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) to March 2022 to support employers that are expanding their local workforce, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Friday.

“We expect the road ahead to continue to be uneven, so to secure the recovery and support our local jobseekers, we will extend the scheme by another six months,” Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told reporters following a visit to Alcon Singapore.

This comes as the labour market is not fully back to pre-Covid-19 levels, even as Singapore’s second-quarter employment data showed a gradual recovery, said Dr Tan.

The extent of support from October to March 2022 will be reduced, in line with improving economic conditions, he added.

Companies hiring non-mature locals below 40 will get 15 per cent wage support of the first S$5,000 for up to six months in this third phase of the JGI, down from 25 per cent of the same amount for 12 months in the first two phases.

They will get 50 per cent of the first S$6,000 for up to 12 months if they hire mature workers, persons with disabilities or ex-offenders. This is a reduction from the 50 per cent support of the first S$6,000 for 18 months they received in Phase Two of the JGI from March to September this year.

“The JGI remains an extraordinary measure and not a permanent scheme… As such, I would like to encourage employers who have growth plans to accelerate and bring forward their hiring of locals,” Dr Tan said, urging them to do so during this extended qualifying period.

The JGI was introduced in September 2020 as a pandemic response measure to support employers hiring locals. As of May, close to 400,000 locals were hired by 58,000 businesses, 99 per cent of which were small and medium enterprises.

According to the 22nd edition of the Jobs Situation Report released in July, there were 270,000 hires in the first six months of the initiative’s launch, which means there was an increase of about 128,000 hires from February to May.

Half of the 400,000 hires were not employed at the point of hire and about a third had been out of work for more than six months, according to MOM.

Mature workers aged 40 and above constituted half of the JGI-supported hires, with a third aged 50 and above.

The food services sector hired the most people between September and May at 57,600, of which 45 per cent were mature workers.

This was followed by wholesale trade at 30,460 hires, about half of whom were mature workers.

There were 27,080 hires in professional services, with 38 per cent of these being mature workers.

About six in 10 of the hires were previously employed in a different sector.

In addition, 60 per cent earned the same or higher wages compared to their previous jobs.

Asked if MOM is expecting more layoffs in the coming months following Panasonic’s announcement on Thursday that it will lay off 700 workers in Singapore, Dr Tan said the road ahead is still going to be “bumpy”, with a need to keep an eye on the pulse of the economy and different industries.

“We are seeing a K-shaped recovery. The outward-looking industry – the wholesale trade, finance, professional services, infocomm – will continue to see increase in terms of hiring and growth,” said Dr Tan.

The inward-facing industry as well as hospitality and aviation will however continue to face significant challenges, he noted.

“The key thing that I hope that we can achieve is to continue to encourage and nudge companies to continue to think how to innovate, how to pivot to keep ahead and to keep in sync with the trends of what internationally, most of the economies and industry are getting towards, and that is Industry 4.0,” Dr Tan added.