Over 100,000 self-employed to get $1 billion in total, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Over 100,000 self-employed to get $1 billion in total

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Manpower Minister gives updates on support schemes

The Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme is expected to pay out close to $1 billion in cash to more than 100,000 self-employed people, with the first payment to be made by end-May.

This was among the figures that Manpower Minister Josephine Teo provided in Parliament yesterday, as she gave updates on the support schemes that have been rolled out amid the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

She said that since the Manpower Ministry (MOM) launched the SGUnited Jobs initiative in March, more than 16,000 immediate job vacancies have been made available - exceeding the initial target of 10,000.

The public sector has partnered the Job Security Council of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), unions and employers to place more than 3,000 people from affected sectors in jobs such as safe distancing ambassadors and hospital care ambassadors.

And Workforce Singapore will ramp up the capacity of professional conversion programmes in sectors that are still hiring, such as security, she added.

Through the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package, employers can get a hiring incentive of 20 per cent salary support for six months, capped at $6,000, for new hires aged 40 and above brought in via an eligible skills training programme.

About 1,800 self-employed people have benefited so far from the Self-Employed Person Training Support Scheme, which is administered by NTUC and provides a $10 hourly training allowance, or $400 for a week-long course.

In response to MPs who expressed concerns about fresh graduates entering a fraught labour market, Mrs Teo said the Government has launched the SGUnited Traineeships Programme.

There are now more than 4,000 traineeship opportunities from 280 organisations available through it. Graduates can apply from June 1.

The Government will fund 80 per cent of monthly training allowances for up to 12 months.

"Our young people are absolutely critical to our future," Mrs Teo said.

"We hope more host companies can come forward to help build up the pool of traineeships and give our young graduates the much-needed opportunities to start their careers."

Mrs Teo said not all employers have been impacted to the same degree, and called on those in better financial shape to use the government support to give their employees a more generous baseline wage.

"Others who are financially stressed and face poor business prospects should be frank with their unions and employees," she said.

"They should work out together how to use the government support to help each other get through this period of difficulty."

She stressed: "One thing is clear: Employers should not act unilaterally and put their employees on prolonged no-pay leave or reduced pay, without the employees' consent."