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Minister Josephine Teo on downturn measures, EP and S Pass holders, and more

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With Singapore's Parliament in session, Minister for Manpower, Josephine Teo, has been responding to a number of queries relevant to employers. We've summed up the key topics discussed this week below.

Downturn measures

To MP Desmond Choo's question on the progress of downturn measures to support workers, Minister Teo emphasised that the current situation is completely different from that in 2008, which was considered the most severe downturn in recent years.

Citing Q2 2019 trends, where retrenchments remained fairly low at 2,300, and total employment growth slowed but it did not stall, she noted employment growth remained robust in sectors such as:

  • Information & communications,
  • Community, social & personal services,
  • Professional services, and
  • Financial services.
"This suggests that while most employers are exercising greater caution in hiring, most are not laying off existing workers," she said. "MOM, together with MTI and other government agencies, is monitoring the economy and labour market closely."

She noted that support for companies and workers under the Adapt and Grow initiative continues, while worker-specific programmes include Career Support Programme, Career Trial and Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs).

The Taskforce for Responsible Retrenchment and Employment Facilitation, which was formed in 2016, will also continue to engage retrenching companies on responsible retrenchment practices.

While on the topic of PCPs, MP Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar asked about the progress in running PCPs for retiring mainstream teachers and others keen to take up a new career as preschool educators.

To this, Minister Teo spoke about PCP in place for pre-school teachers and the place-and-train Programme (PnT) for educarers, under the Adapt and Grow (A&G) initiative.

"In the past three years, more than 2,000 jobseekers have been placed with over 400 employers in the early childhood care and education (ECCE) sector," she noted.

MP Gan Thiam Poh was keen to understand more about the industries that employ the most number of EP and S Pass holders. To this, Minister Teo said that within the Services sector, food services has the highest utilisation of S Pass quota.

Even so, she emphasised on the new policies, whereby S Pass holders' quota in the Services sector will be reduced from the current 15% to 13% of the firm’s total workforce (excluding EP holders) from 1 Jan 2020, and to 10% from 1 Jan 2021.

S Pass holders's minimum qualifying salaries were also updated in 2019, with a further increase to be made in 2020.

As for EP holders' details, she focused on the scrutiny of EP applications of firms suspected to have discriminatory hiring practices, including firms with very high single-nationality concentrations. EP holders' minimum qualifying salaries were updated in 2017.

"Locals hold the majority of jobs paying above $3,600 (minimum qualifying salary for EPs). In most other sectors, the EP shares are around or below one-quarter with the exception of Infocomm in the Services sector where the share of EPs is about one-third," she further clarified.

Photo / 123RF

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