Jobseekers in Singapore will soon be able to tap into a temporary financial support scheme while they take the time to upgrade their skills for better job opportunities.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this new scheme in his 2023 National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug. 20).
Turbulent global economy brings opportunities but also anxiety
Speaking in Malay, PM Lee said that while Singaporeans wish for economic prosperity, good jobs, and a steady livelihood, the global economic situation is expected to remain uncertain and turbulent.
However, he said many opportunities remain available for those who dare to seize them. For example, new economic sectors are sprouting up, creating new jobs, which he described to be like "mushrooms growing after the rain".
One example he highlighted is the digital domain, where new skills and deep knowledge are in demand.
"You can be a YouTuber, a data scientist, or a user experience (UX) or user interface (UI) designer. Who says you can’t make a living from online games? Actually, you can! How to do so? By being a professional player, coach, or even a commentator."
PM Lee said he is happy to see more people moving to the digital sector, including many Malay/Muslim professionals.
However, he added that he understands the "flip side of these opportunities" is the anxiety workers face to keep up with the latest trends.
For instance, workers in the digital industry might worry that robots or AI applications may take over their job.
PM Lee said Singaporeans "can certainly expect more job disruptions", and more people may "lose their jobs several times throughout their careers".
Releasing financial pressure for jobseekers
For those who had lost jobs, PM Lee says "the way out" is to retrain for better long-term opportunities.
He said the government had taken steps to help workers pick up new skills and move to new sectors, with initiatives such as the SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme and Workforce Singapore's (WSG's) Career Conversion Programme.
However, PM Lee said that as the "pace of change" is expected to increase, coupled with financial pressure and the need to support their families, it might be very difficult to go for skills courses, and jobseekers might seize "whatever jobs are offered to them" out of desperation.
PM Lee said that the government understands jobseekers' difficulties and concerns and will develop a scheme to offer temporary financial support for retrenched workers.
The temporary financial support scheme will thus ease the immediate pressure these jobseekers experience so that they can focus on upgrading their skills for a better long-term job.
The government is still fine-tuning the details of the scheme, said PM Lee, and the 4G leaders will share more when everything has been finalised.
Commending the Malay/Muslim community efforts to help jobseekers
Besides the government's efforts, PM Lee also commended Malay/Muslim Organisations (MMOs) for playing their part in supporting jobseekers.
PM Lee raised the examples of Mendaki working closely with the M3 agencies and other MMOs to help Malay workers, as well as NTUC Malay leaders getting actively involved in helping them upskill and find jobs.
He highlighted the story of Nur Asyura Senin, a mother of two children, who stopped working as an administrative assistant for four years to care for her children.
She decided to rejoin the workforce after they started school but wanted to switch from construction to healthcare.
With the help of Mendaki, she found suitable courses to attend using her SkillsFuture Credits and received a Certificate in Basic Dental Assisting.
She managed to secure a full-time job as a dental surgery assistant at a clinic after receiving her certificate.
"This is how Asyura has successfully bounced back and upgraded her skills. Congratulations Asyura!" PM Lee said.
Top image via NTUC e2i.