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Helping Singaporeans retain their jobs or find new ones amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been a national priority in 2020.
For those who have found themselves retrenched in 2020, or are currently unemployed and are looking for a job, securing employment in today’s climate will no doubt be tougher than in previous years.
The government is committed to supporting workers and has introduced new schemes, and enhanced existing ones during this period of an extraordinary crisis. In this article, we will discuss some of these available schemes that you can use if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being retrenched, and being unable to find a new job.
Do note that the schemes mentioned in this article are not exhaustive. Also, we will not be highlighting government schemes such as the Care and Support Package that are meant for all Singaporeans, not just those who have been retrenched.
Providing Cash Payouts & Helping People Find Jobs
A simple way to understand how the government intends to support those who have been retrenched or unemployed is that schemes can be broadly categorised in two areas: 1) Cash payouts to tide through difficult times and 2) schemes to help you find a new job during this period.
Both areas are equally important. Cash payouts will support jobseekers and their families financially during this period of unemployment. At the same time, no amount of cash payouts is going to be enough if workers are unable to secure a job for themselves.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of getting retrenched, you need to know what are the schemes that you can tap on during this period.
Here are some cash payout schemes that you can tap on if you have been recently retrenched or lost your job.
#1 COVID-19 Support Grant
The COVID-19 Support Grant will support individuals whose livelihoods have been affected by COVID-19. These include those who have 1) lost their jobs due to COVID-19; 2) have been placed on involuntary no-pay leave for at least 3 consecutive months; 3) seen a salary reduction of at least 30% for at least 3 consecutive months.
If you find yourself retrenched, you would qualify for the COVID-19 Support Grant and receive a payout of up to $800 per month for a period of three months.
To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria, including having a gross monthly household income of not more than $10,000 or a gross monthly per capita income of $3,100 or less prior to the loss of your job. The annual value of the property you live in will also need to be below $21,000. There are some other qualifying criteria and you can check out the Ministry of Social Welfare (MSF) website to see if you are eligible for the scheme.
As announced during Ministerial Statement delivered on 17 August by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, the COVID-19 Support Grant will be extended till 31 December 2020. You can apply for the scheme online.
#2 NTUC Care Fund
The NTUC Care Fund is a joint-effort by NTUC, its associated unions and association, and the government. It provides union members with a one-off cash relief of up to $300. New union members (i.e. those who only joined the union after 30 March 2020) will receive up to $200.
If you have suffered from an income drop of at least 30 per cent of your monthly salary/earnings due to COVID-19, or are a self-employed person (SEP) whose income has been adversely affected due to COVID-19 related job or event cancellation, you can qualify for the payout.
Do note however that your monthly income prior to income loss cannot be more than $1,500. If you live with dependents (e.g. kids, elderly parents), your gross monthly income prior to income loss can’t be more than $3,400.
Those who have been retrenched would also qualify for the payout, as long as their retrenchment benefits do not exceed $6,500.
Beyond helping Singaporeans tide over this crisis in the short term, helping them find the right jobs to be financially independent is just as important. In this regard, Workforce Singapore (WSG), a statutory board under the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), can help.
To support those who have been retrenched, WSG has developed a comprehensive Career Restarter Programme toolkit to help retrenched workers bounce back. Through this programme, retrenched workers will get access to materials developed by WSG designed to help them improve their chances of getting the jobs they want.
For those who prefer interaction, you will be glad to know that the Career Restarter programme from WSG can help you make a career coaching appointment, where career officers will explore career options with you, and help connect you to opportunities that are available in the market. If you are a Singapore Citizen or PR looking for a job, there is absolutely no reason not to utilise support from the WSG Career Restarter Programme. You can sign up for it here.
While signing up for the Career Restarter Programme is a great first step as it allows you to gain access to the career support services provided by WSG, you can also take other proactive steps to leverage on other government support.
The SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package introduced earlier this year will provide opportunities to close to 100,000 locals in Singapore. It’s a comprehensive plan that focuses on helping locals of all ages find jobs, traineeship positions and skills training opportunities.
#3 SGUnited Jobs
The SGUnited Jobs initiative will provide up to 40,000 job opportunities, of which 15,000 openings will be from the public sectors. Jobs created will be a mixture of short and long-term positions. The public sector will also provide two-year positions to local jobseekers and train them in key capability areas, to eventually place them in relevant private sector jobs. Whether it’s the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme, SGUnited Traineeship or finding a job under SGUnited Jobs, you can search and apply for any of these positions through the MyCareersFuture job portal.
#4 SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme
Under the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme, mid-career jobseekers can apply for attachment opportunities at participating Singapore companies across various industries. The attachment would allow jobseekers to gain meaningful industry-relevant experiences with Singapore companies to boost their employability, while receiving a monthly training allowance of up to $3,000, of which 80% is co-funded by the government.
The programme, which can last up to 9 months, is available to all Singaporeans and PRs with the exception of recent graduates. This is useful for those who have been retrenched and are hoping to find opportunities in an industry which they don’t have prior experience in.
For jobseekers looking to attend training instead of an attachment opportunity, they can choose to enrol themselves for full-time training ranging from six to 12 months, in sectors that can provide job opportunities as the economy recovers such as in ICT and manufacturing.
They will also receive a training allowance of $1,500 per month for the duration of their training, and enjoy career advisory and employment assistance as they search for new jobs after their training. Course fees are also heavily subsidised by the government.
Companies that are offering Mid-Career Pathway Programme jobs will be advertising their openings on the MyCareersFuture Job Portal. So head to the job portal if you are keen to consider some of these jobs.
#5 SGUnited Traineeships
A misconception that some people have is that WSG can only support older workers or those with lower education levels. This is untrue. Whether you are a younger or older worker, and regardless of your educational background, WSG can support you as long as you are a Singapore Citizen or PR.
Whether they have lost their job recently because of COVID-19, or are unable to secure employment because of the weak job market, Singaporeans and PRs who graduated from universities, polytechnics or ITE in 2019 or 2020 will be eligible for the SGUnited Traineeships Programme. Through this program, about 25,000 traineeship positions will be made available.
Those who qualify for the traineeship programme will receive a training allowance of between $1,800 to $2,500 (for university graduates), $1,300 to $1,800 (for poly graduates) and $1,100 to $1,500 (for ITE graduates). 80% of the training allowance will be subsidised by the government for up to 12 months.
According to MOM and WSG, more than 6,400 organisations have indicated interest in offering more than 35,000 positions for SGUnited. For graduates in 2019 and 2020 looking for a job, the MyCareersFuture Job Portal is definitely the right place to find openings from companies that are hiring.
Get Employment Advice & Assistance Today
While WSG offers an extensive list of programmes and initiatives that you can tap on, jobseekers may understandably be unsure of the right schemes suitable for them. If you are not sure where to start, we recommend connecting to someone from WSG first.
DollarsAndSense readers (Singapore Citizens and PRs only) who need support in their search for a job can get in touch with WSG by filing in this form. After doing so, a representative of WSG will get in touch with you to better understand your situation, before helping to connect you with the services and schemes that you are suitable for.
To help you navigate the myriad government support schemes, you can refer to our handy infographic: