SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Saturday (Jul 4) urged employers and workers to continue with training by making “full use” of the new SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
The S$2 billion package was announced by Mr Heng in May as part of the Fortitude Budget – the Government’s fourth tranche of relief measures to fight the COVID-19-induced economic slowdown.
It aims to create close to 100,000 opportunities for workers, including 40,000 jobs, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training opportunities.
READ: Fortitude Budget: More than 40,000 jobs to be created as part of S$2b employment, training package
Mr Heng, who was speaking in a People’s Action Party (PAP) online rally for East Coast GRC, said the COVID-19 pandemic presents “a very serious challenge” for the economy and Singaporeans.
That is why he has set aside a budget for the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
“Some of it (is) to encourage our employers to hire our workers, some of it for training. So whether it is training on the job or training in our learning centres, I hope that everyone makes full use of this and I want to urge all our employers: ‘Please train everyone’.”
Mr Heng also recounted a conversation he had on a recent walkabout.
“Somebody asked me the other day when I was walking. He said: ‘Mr Heng, why don't you put more money in the pocket. Why are you giving money to companies - is it to save companies?”
Mr Heng said he replied that companies receiving support through the Government's relief packages “are expected to keep the workers on the job”.
“If they fire them, the next tranche they would not get it,” he said.
“I'm very happy to hear whenever I walk around (that) so many of our young people are able to find jobs and so many of our existing workers are working, because the job support package is to support our workers.”
He cautioned companies against laying off their employees now because when the COVID-19 situation improves, business will return.
“But if you now fire your workers, the situation will be worse,” he said.
This was the PAP’s second online rally for East Coast GRC. The team is led by Mr Heng, who is PAP’s first assistant secretary-general, and comprises Dr Maliki Osman, Ms Cheryl Chan, Ms Jessica Tan and new face Mr Tan Kiat How.
During the online rally, which was streamed live on Facebook, the five candidates talked about their plans for the constituency, ranging from initiatives to help seniors age well, meeting the needs of young families and greening efforts in the community.
For instance, Mr Heng addressed the challenges of Singapore's rapidly ageing population.
“What we need to do is to ensure that our seniors are able to age well, and ageing well means continue to stay active mentally, physically and socially.
“So we must have very good programmes across the whole of Singapore, for us to do this even better,” he said.
First-time candidate Mr Tan, who was former chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority, said he has met many seniors who are keen to pick up digital skills so as to remain in touch with friends and loved ones during the pandemic.
He added that he wants to continue reaching out to these seniors and help them with their digital journeys.
Dr Maliki said the PAP team wants to develop a “caring, vibrant and green” East Coast and will be kicking off an “East Coast Conversation” series.
“Within these three pillars, we are going to bring residents together as part of our conversation,” he said, adding that residents can register on the constituency’s Facebook and website.