SINGAPORE: The Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI), which gives businesses support to hire more locals, will be extended by six months to March 2022, the Ministry of Manpower said on Friday (Sep 24).
This is to “secure recovery amidst an improving labour market”, MOM said in a press release.
But support levels will be tapered down "in line with improving conditions”, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng on Friday.
JGI started about a year ago, providing subsidies for up to a quarter of the first S$5,000 earned by an eligible employee for up to 12 months.
To qualify, the company must increase its overall local workforce and the number of resident workers earning at least S$1,400.
At Budget 2021, the scheme was extended to September this year and subsidies were raised for mature workers, workers with disabilities and ex-offenders.
It will now continue for six more months until March 2022, but the wage support will be lowered.
For a new local hire under 40 years old, companies will get 15 per cent of the first S$5,000 of the worker’s salary for up to six months. The total incentive is capped at S$4,500 per hire.
For workers above 40, those with disabilities and ex-offenders, the scheme will cover half of their salaries up to S$6,000 for up to 12 months. The total incentive is capped at S$36,000 per worker.
Dr Tan emphasised that the JGI is "an extraordinary measure, and is not a permanent scheme".
"I would like to encourage employers who have growth plans to accelerate and bring forward your hiring of locals, and do so within the extended qualifying period," he said after a visit to Alcon, an eye care products manufacturer.
NEARLY 400,000 JGI HIRES
From September 2020 to May this year, close to 400,000 locals were hired by 58,000 businesses support from JGI, said MOM.
Nearly all (99 per cent) of these businesses were small and medium-sized enterprises. About half of the businesses hired one to two local workers, while the rest hired more, MOM said.
The businesses are in a range of sectors, including wholesale trade, professional services, information & communications, food services and retail.
Half of the 400,000 JGI-supported hires to-date were not employed at the point of hire and about one-third had been out of work for more than six months, said MOM. About six in 10 were previously employed in a different sector.
Close to half were mature workers aged 40 and above, and one-third were aged 50 and above. Six in 10 earned the same or higher wages compared to their previous jobs.
"I'm very encouraged to observe that our employers continue to keep an open mind when it comes to hiring, and that they have the confidence in the ability of our workers to adapt to the changing environment and job demands," said Dr Tan.
Responding to a reporter's question about retrenchments at Panasonic, Dr Tan said that a retrenchment task force, with the labour movement and other Government agencies are "at the forefront" helping workers who have been retrenched.
"They're also working with a company to see how we can match them with the new jobs that are available. I think the situation that we have today, as we also shared in one of my earlier reports is that we currently have more vacancies than there are job seekers," he said.
"So, we hope to be able to replace them as quickly as possible."
He reiterated that the road ahead "is still going to be bumpy", despite some recovery in the economy and labour markets.
"We need to continue to stay vigilant, and also at the same time, keep our eyes and our fingers on the pulse of the economy, and also on different industries," said Dr Tan.
When asked if this was the last time Government will extend the JGI, Dr Tan said that Government policies so far have been "very nimble" and responsive to the needs of the economy and industry.
"We have these six months to evaluate ... rather than sort of commit to a particular stance, I think it's better for us to be nimble and see when the market - how it behaves, how the economy behaves."