National Jobs Council will open pathways to jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic: Josephine Teo

National Jobs Council will open pathways to jobs amid COVID-19 pandemic: Josephine Teo

Raffles Place Jun 2 circuit breaker phase 1
Human traffic was sparse during evening peak hour at Raffles Place on Jun 2, 2020, the first day of Phase 1 post-circuit breaker. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: The newly-formed National Jobs Council will focus on identifying and developing jobs, traineeships and skills training opportunities for Singaporeans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Wednesday (Jun 3).

It will "open up many more pathways to jobs," she said.

The council, which includes veteran business leaders from industries and union leaders among its ranks, sat for its first meeting on Wednesday.

The National Jobs Council was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in his fourth Budget on May 26. 

The council will be focused on developing jobs and building deeper skills, Mr Heng had said.

Among the matters discussed were priority areas to implement the S$2 billion SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package, which aims to create close to 100,000 opportunities comprising jobs, 25,000 traineeships and 30,000 skills training placements.

The ambition of the council is "on a scale well beyond any past experience," Senior Minister and council chair Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

It is "certainly beyond what we faced during the Global Financial Crisis or SARS," he added.

READ: Singapore's total employment plunges in Q1, sharpest drop since SARS

READ: S$33b Fortitude Budget aimed at providing jobs, supporting workers and firms through 'difficult period' of COVID-19

A renewed emphasis on fair opportunities for Singaporeans must complement the undertaking, Ms Teo said.

She noted that the Ministry of Manpower had in January 2020 updated its Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) to include harsher penalties for companies that are found to practice discriminatory hiring practices against Singaporeans.

Firms found to favour hiring foreigners over Singaporeans will be barred from applying for new work passes for a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 24 months. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it "all the more critical" to provide the assurance of fair recruitment, Ms Teo said. 

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Source: CNA/nh(ac)

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