Every effort being made to ensure no lost generation: DPM Heng

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DPM urges young job seekers to equip themselves with skills for a post-pandemic world

It is a challenging time to come of age for young people here, and the road ahead is fraught with uncertainty, but every effort is being made to ensure that there is no "lost generation" in Singapore, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

"The pandemic might have set back your plans temporarily, but the virus will not stop you from fulfilling your potential," he said in his message to young job seekers yesterday.

The labour movement and the Government will provide them access to jobs and traineeship opportunities, he said at a virtual career symposium organised by the youth wing of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Efforts were also being made to protect jobs through wage support.

"You have my assurance that you will not be alone in this journey," said Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister. "We are determined that there will be no 'lost generation' in Singapore as a result of Covid-19."

The pandemic will fade at some point, he said, but young people must make the best use of the current time and help themselves.

"You too can turn anxiety into action... by equipping yourself with skills, so that you are ready to soar when the economy recovers."

On its part, Mr Heng said, the Government was committing nearly $24 billion through the Jobs Support Scheme and creating almost 100,000 jobs, traineeships and skills upgrading opportunities.

"We are here for you. But you must also be there for yourself," he said, urging the young to make the most of such opportunities and take on the challenge, as previous generations of Singaporeans have done.

Yesterday's event was among a series of initiatives launched by the NTUC to help young Singaporeans find jobs, improve career prospects or upgrade skills in a post-pandemic world. Held virtually for the first time, it was attended by around 800 people and included networking sessions at which the participants got to interact with potential employers. Representatives from entities such as Google, Nets and Temasek also spoke on the changing employment landscape.

Meanwhile, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in a Facebook post that 2,800 organisations have stepped forward to offer more than 19,000 traineeships to new graduates.

Mrs Teo, who held a virtual conference with several fresh graduates and graduating students from Institutes of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities, noted: "While these traineeships may not be the same as a job, they will help young graduates to build networks, skill sets and resumes.

"This in turn will stand them in good stead in landing a permanent role when the hiring demand picks up."