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Budget 2021: S$11 billion package with Job Support Scheme extended for hard-hit sectors

S$5.4 billion top-up for S$3 billion Jobs and Skills Programme

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Singapore – The Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) to help retain jobs by subsidising workers’ salaries will be extended for hard-hit sectors amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 16).

In his Budget 2021 statement, Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, talked about resetting Singapore for recovery this year and emerging stronger.

Mr Heng noted he addressed Parliament nine times last year and it is his “New Year wish” to only have one Budget this year. There will be a greater focus on the hardest-hit industries and job creation after the Government’s response to the pandemic last year helped “avoid the worst recession, job losses and mitigated inequality”.

Mr Heng announced a S$11 billion Covid-19 Resilience Package, which aims to address the “immediate and extraordinary challenges” of fighting the pandemic, to safeguard public health and reopen safely.

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The JSS will be extended to continue support for job protection and creation and help firms retain local workers.

Introduced during last year’s Budget, the JSS has subsidised between 25 and 75 per cent of wages for firms. “So far, we have committed over S$25 billion to the JSS, and supported 155,000 employers for up to 17 months,” said Mr Heng.

“The current tranche will continue to cover wages up to March 2021 for most sectors.”

While many firms have maintained and reskilled their workers, some remain stressed, said Mr Heng. Therefore, the JSS will be continued for hard-hit sectors.

Firms in Tier 1 sectors, such as aviation, aerospace and tourism, will receive 30 per cent support for wages paid from April to June 2021 and 10 per cent for July to September 2021, or an extension of six months.

Firms in Tier 2 sectors, such as retail, food services and arts and culture, will have 10 per cent wage support extended for three months, till June this year.

There will be no changes for firms in Tier 3A as they are generally recovering, said Mr Heng. As previously announced, the 10 per cent wage support for these firms will continue until March this year.

Develop skills, talents and creativity of Singaporeans

To achieve a vibrant economy, businesses would need highly skilled workers and deep talent, said Mr Heng.

“The workplace is changing.” He mentioned a survey last year indicating 90 per cent of employers globally see similar or higher productivity despite workers working remotely. Furthermore, over 80 per cent of firms aim to have more flexible work environments.

“These are global trends that our people have to adapt to,” said Mr Heng.

“Work from home is just a short step from working from anywhere. Singaporeans may find more opportunities as the best firms source globally.”

However, this will also lead to stiffer competition from talents who may not even set foot in Singapore.

“But Singapore should not be fearful. There are many strengths in Singapore that will enable us to create good jobs here. But to access this, we have to learn and adapt,” said Mr Heng.

One key pillar in industry transformation is the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package first launched in 2020 to tackle the anticipated labour fallout from Covid-19.

The scheme placed nearly 76,000 individuals in jobs, traineeships, attachments and skills training by the end of last year.

Under the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI), an estimated 110,000 local job seekers were hired within two months from the implementation of the scheme.

To support the growth of skills, an additional S$5.4 billion will be budgeted on a second tranche of the Jobs and Skills Programme on top of the S$3 billion allocated last year.

Companies hiring eligible workers will be given up to 12 months of wage support from the month of hire. “Those hiring mature workers, persons with disabilities and ex-offenders, will be given up to 18 months’ support,” said Mr Heng.

The support is extended to workers requiring additional support to land a job through SGUnited Skills, traineeships and Mid-Career Pathways programmes.

“Through the next stage of Jobs and Skills Package, we have set aside the budget and support of hiring 200,000 locals this year through the JGI and provide up to 35,000 traineeships and training opportunities to continue to support job seekers in upskilling and accessing employment opportunities,” said Mr Heng./TISG

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