Singapore explores enhanced support system for the unemployed 

More government-funded aid is in the pipeline to support displaced employees, with an emphasis on skills development and job search.
By: | September 28, 2023

Singapore is considering the introduction of a government-funded support system for involuntarily unemployed employees as part of an extensive revamp of the SkillsFuture programme, a national movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their potential.

Announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, the proposed support system aims to help displaced employees navigate immediate difficulties while continuing their upskilling and job search. Wong clarified that it would not function as an insurance scheme but rather as a government-funded benefit, designed to be appropriately sized.

Historically, Singapore has been cautious about introducing unemployment benefits due to concerns over discouraging individuals from rejoining the workforce. However, acknowledging the faster pace of change and job turnover in the country’s economy, Wong revealed that Singapore had reevaluated its stance.

Wong, who also serves as Finance Minister, addressed the twin challenges of inequality and mobility in Singapore’s evolving economic landscape, marked by external uncertainties and domestic constraints. He outlined a series of government proposals aimed at improving the wellbeing of the middle class, assisting lower-income citizens, and preserving social mobility.

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Wong further emphasised the need for Singaporeans to adapt to rapidly evolving job markets, especially older employees in their 40s and 50s who face challenges in refreshing their skills due to caregiving responsibilities. To address this, the government plans to intensify investments in adult education and training, strengthening the SkillsFuture programme as a vital component of the social support system.

Other measures include top-ups to the SkillsFuture Credit for mid-career employees, training allowances for those pursuing full-time courses, career planning, and improved job matching. “Through these efforts, we can ensure that the majority of Singaporeans enjoy continued increases in their real incomes and living standards,” he concluded, reported CNA.