SINGAPORE: With the ride-hailing sector badly hit by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Grab has launched a career support portal for drivers seeking other career opportunities.
The portal is open to all Grab drivers and will initially focus on tech and digital roles across various industries, the ride-hailing operator announced on Thursday (Jun 11).
Through the portal - which is expected to launch later this month - drivers will be able to get career coaching and training certification for the jobs they wish to pursue, in addition to job placement and networking opportunities.
READ: Growth in food delivery business not enough to cover transport decline amid COVID-19 outbreak, says Grab Singapore head
The Singapore-based firm also announced a tie-up with Ngee Ann Polytechnic to launch a new driver training programme featuring two courses - Customer Service and Quality as well as Vehicle Safety and Maintenance.
The courses will run for six months initially, with Grab and Ngee Ann Polytechnic reviewing the curriculum at the end of the period.
The two-day programme will be mandatory for all new Grab drivers, and will also be open to existing drivers.
Grab drivers will not have to pay for the courses, as SkillsFuture Singapore will cover up to 90 per cent of course fees under the Enhanced Training Support Package for P2P Drivers, with Grab fully subsidising the remaining amount.
Grab announced that the courses will be available to all taxi and private-hire drivers in Singapore, and that it would continue to explore other relevant courses to help its drivers upgrade their skills.
READ: COVID-19: Taxi, private-hire drivers allowed to deliver food and groceries until end-September
The ride-hailing firm also worked with Workforce Singapore to introduce a Jobs widget in its driver app, which will curate job opportunities from the MyCareersFuture.sg portal to help drivers supplement their earnings during this period.
These initiatives are "designed for driver-partners with different career goals and mindsets", Grab said in a news release.
A survey of 3,000 Grab drivers found that more than 70 per cent planned to stop driving after two years, the company said, adding that 50 per cent of the drivers said they were willing to take on career-related training.
Grab said it aims to offer between 2,000 and 3,000 of its active drivers training or career support through these programmes within the next six months.
Speaking to media on Thursday, Grab Singapore transport managing director Andrew Chan said Singapore's "circuit breaker" period – aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 – had affected its business, with drivers seeing a "significant drop" in their earnings as more people stayed at home.
To support drivers – who are self-employed – Grab halved the commission it took from fares, and offered them greater earning opportunities through food and parcel deliveries as well, Mr Chan noted.
For private-hire drivers, the "new normal" after COVID-19 may mean seeking other sources to supplement their income, he said.
Mr Chan pointed to the Monetary Authority of Singapore's prediction of a recession this year, as well as Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat stating in Parliament last week that more than 100,000 people here could be unemployed this year.
"For the self-employed workers, whose earnings are variable and dependent on the overall health of the economy, it is doubly concerning that what we've seen due to COVID will extend into the longer term," he said, adding that Grab has a role to play in ensuring drivers are well-protected.
READ: Flexibility, being your own boss, decent income: Why younger people are working as private hire drivers
Businesses like Grab will have to remain agile to see their way through the pandemic, which has brought about a lot of volatility, Mr Chan said.
"I think we need to be ready to pivot based on what is thrown at us, and frankly we don't know what cards will be dealt to us, particularly now," he said.
"We're grateful that at Grab, we have the technology to scale, which will allow us to support the broader community as well."
Grab also announced changes to its incentive scheme for drivers on Thursday.
In a message, seen by CNA, that was sent to drivers on the Grab app, the company announced a new performance rebate scheme that will give the top 18,000 drivers who contribute the most commissions each quarter a 12 per cent rebate on their commissions paid.
Grab drivers typically pay 20 per cent of their fares back to the company.
The new scheme will replace five existing driver incentives, which give commission rebates and cash bonuses to drivers based on factors such as how many trips they hit, which will all end on Jun 22.
A previous effort by Grab to suspend driver incentives in February was reversed after it was criticised by drivers, who perceived it as an effort to take advantage of a COVID-19 relief package for drivers.