Key points summed up below.
When asked by MP Murali Pillai about the safeguards to the JGI to prevent companies from gaming the system and receiving salary co-payment with no net growth of jobs, Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, said: "To be eligible for JGI, firms must achieve an increase in their local workforce size from that in August 2020. Hence, a firm with no net growth of jobs will not receive JGI payouts."
She added that firms that initially increase local headcont only to subsequently reduce it to below the original level would also stop receiving future JGI payouts.
At the same time, to ensure the increase in the local workforce is meaningful, the increase in the number of local employees must be in jobs that pay at least S$1,400 in gross monthly wages.
Minister Teo explained that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) did not impose a condition that the firm promises not to let any worker go, as that would impose significant rigidity to the firm. In addition, there may be valid reasons to why a firm that received JGI has to later let existing employees go - for instance, retirement, or voluntary resignations.
Given that in practice, firms would likely prefer to moderate their new hiring than have support being withdrawn, a practical approach is taken.
She explained: "A firm’s JGI payout is reduced in proportion to the number of existing employees that left the firm after the scheme started in September 2020. This gives the firms assurance of funding support while signalling clearly that they should make efforts to retain existing employees even as they bring in new hires."
Further, IRAS has put in place a robust anti-gaming framework to identify risks and prevent abuse. IRAS uses data analytics and risk profiling to identify cases, which are sent to a dedicated team for review.
"We view any attempt to abuse grant schemes very seriously, and will not hesitate to report any malpractices or abuse to the Police for investigation and prosecution," Teo said.
Note: The Jobs Growth Incentive, or JGI, supports firms to accelerate the hiring of the local workforce over six months. JGI was announced in August 2020, and will be provided to qualifying hires from September 2020 to February 2021. Eligible local hires can attract salary support for up to 12 months.
Minister Teo was also quizzed by MPs Carrie Tan and Liang Eng Hwa about the SGUnited Traineeship programme, including the following (answers below):
How is the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) ensuring adequate scrutiny and efficient processing of SGUnited Traineeship applications - do they have enough headcount, and are they planning to hire to shorten processing time?
Although the focus must now be to secure more successful placements, SBF continues to accept new applications to host company attachments for mid-career individuals that commence before 31 Mar 2021.
The SBF team has a dedicated team of 25, of which 80% has been filled and will be reaching full strength by end-October. I had earlier updated the House that SBF undertakes a rigorous screening process and scrutinises each application to ensure that host organisations structure their traineeships and attachments appropriately with clear development plans, so that participants can have a positive and meaningful experience.
How quickly an employer's application is approved depends in part on the comprehensiveness of its submission. Factoring in time for SBF to seek clarifications and enhancement, most applications are approved within 4 weeks. This is, however, not a key bottleneck as there are already many existing openings available to jobseekers. After suitable matches are found and necessary supporting documents are submitted to SBF, the traineeship or company attachment can commence.
How many Singaporeans sought assistance from the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres?
Although all satellite career centres were only in operation from end-August, Career Ambassadors have advised around 4,200 jobseekers by now.
What is the impact of the programme?
To date, over 20,500 traineeship and company attachment opportunities have been made available under the SGUnited Traineeship programme. The top five sectors which account for more than half of the openings are Financial Services, Infocomm Technology and Media, Professional Services, Wholesale Trade and Electronics. More than 2,800 local jobseekers have been placed.
Considering the collective impact of the multiple channels that assist jobseekers, between January and August this year, career matching services have been provided to about 44,200 jobseekers through the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres as well as WSG and NTUC’s e2i’s five permanent career centres.
Since the launch of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package in April 2020, 33,100 jobseekers have been placed into job, traineeship, attachment, and training opportunities. This is in spite of a two-month lockdown and the deep economic recession.
The MOM will continue to curate more opportunities while seeking to increase placements of jobseekers.
Photo / 123RF