SINGAPORE: The SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package will get an additional S$5.4 billion boost to support the hiring of 200,000 locals this year and provide up to 35,000 traineeship and training opportunities, announced Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 16).
The support package was first launched in May last year to curate 100,000 opportunities to help Singaporean workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 76,000 people have been placed into jobs, traineeships, attachments and skills training opportunities as of end-December, Mr Heng said during his Budget speech.
READ: Emerging stronger from COVID-19 crisis the focus of Budget 2021
Amid the transformation of firms and industries, as well as the emergence of new growth areas, people will need new knowledge and skills.
The additional boost, which comes on top of the S$3 billion allocated to the jobs and skills package last year, will help workers to take on new jobs, said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister.
READ: What you need to know about Budget 2021
As it happened: DPM Heng Swee Keat's Budget 2021 speech
SUPPORT HIRING OF LOCALS
The bulk of the additional funds – S$5.2 billion – will go to extending the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) for seven months.
Currently under the JGI, firms that hire local workers from September last year to February this year will receive a subsidy of 25 per cent of the first S$5,000 of their gross monthly salaries.
With the scheme now extended up to end-September this year, companies will be getting up to 12 months of wage support, said Mr Heng.
Those that hire mature workers, persons with disabilities and ex-offenders will get more help of up to 18 months of enhanced wage support, he added.
READ: Budget 2021: Jobs Support Scheme extended for worst-hit sectors as part of S$11 billion package
For instance, the SGUnited Traineeships programme, which is targeted at fresh graduates, will be extended to support fresh jobseekers from the 2021 graduating cohort.
Starting from April this year, the stipend for ITE traineeship positions will be raised to a range of S$1,600 to S$1,800, from S$1,100 to S$1,500, to encourage take-ups.
READ: 33,100 job seekers placed into jobs, traineeships and training opportunities under SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package
The stipend for diploma traineeship positions will also be increased to S$1,700 to S$2,100, from S$1,300 to S$1,800.
The allowance for university traineeships remains unchanged.
The maximum duration of each traineeship will also be reduced from 9 to 6 months from Apr 1, 2021, in line with economic recovery and to encourage employers to offer trainees full-time jobs, according to additional materials provided by the Ministry of Finance.
READ: IN FOCUS: Graduating into a COVID-19 jobs market - short-term challenges and longer-term issues?
SALARY BOOST FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS
Among other announcements, Mr Heng said the salaries for nurses and other healthcare workers such as support care staff, will be enhanced.
This will apply to workers across public healthcare institutions and publicly-funded community hospitals and long-term care service providers, he added, while expressing his appreciation to all healthcare workers for their dedication in fighting the pandemic.
More details will be announced at the Health Ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
READ: Healthcare sector to offer 7,500 jobs, 1,600 traineeships, attachments and skills training opportunities: MOH
There will also be a new Innovation and Enterprise Fellowship programme, as part of grooming leaders in innovation and enterprise as Singapore heads into a more technologically-intensive and innovation-driven economy.
The National Research Foundation (NRF), a department within the Prime Minister's Office, will support about 500 fellowships over the next five years, said Mr Heng.
This aims to meet the needs in areas such as cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and health technology. It will work with a range of partners, including accelerators, venture capital firms and deep-tech start-ups.