270,000 locals hired under Jobs Growth Incentive: MOM
One of them, a 73-year-old man, had been homeless for about six months after borders closed
The Singaporean divorcee was unable to return to his rented home in Johor Baru when borders closed at the Causeway last year. Homeless, he stayed in a multi-storey carpark here for about six months.
Eventually, Mr Steven Chua, 73, sought help from the Social Service Office and secured accommodation at the Yio Chu Kang Chapel.
He also managed to land a job as a service staff at The Social Kitchen at YMCA.
The Social Kitchen, which has six outlets, is a social enterprise that hires individuals from disadvantaged communities.
Mr Chua, who has been working there since December, is among the more than 270,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents who were hired by 42,000 businesses between September last year and February with support from the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI).
Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng provided the update on the number of people benefiting from the initiative, which aims to support employers to expand local hiring through wage subsidies, during his visit to The Social Kitchen at Jurong Bird Park yesterday.
Mr Chua, who got divorced about four years ago after 50 years of marriage, is not in contact with his three children.
His experience in the hospitality sector in his younger days makes it easy for him at The Social Kitchen, where he helps prepare the food.
"I was feeling lost as I had no home, friends and family," Mr Chua told the media yesterday.
"Now, I am happy with my job as I get along with my colleagues, the bosses are good and I enjoy speaking to the customers. It is also a good way to pass the time and earn money."
The employers who tapped on the JGI came from a variety of industries: Four in 10 were in growth sectors such as wholesale trade, professional services and information and communications, and one in five were in food services and retail.
Dr Tan said these employers were able to hire locals as they kept an open mind and tapped on a wider pool of job seekers.
Close to half of the JGI-supported hires were mature workers aged 40 and above, and one-third were above 50.
Half of them were not employed at the point of hire, with one-third having been out of work for more than six months.
Sixty per cent were previously employed in a different sector.
Dr Tan said it is clear that this group of employers, 99 per cent small and medium-sized enterprises, were willing to look beyond "plug-and-play" workers.
He said: "They were open to hiring workers from different sectors who may not have the obvious relevant experience, but on closer inspection and consideration, they find that these workers possessed valuable transferable skills."
He was also heartened to see that 1,600 people with disabilities were hired under the scheme.
Ms Jessica Szeto, 30, who has Down syndrome, packs food products for The Social Kitchen at the Jurong Bird Park branch.
It is her first full-time job, before which she attended schools including Margaret Drive Special School and Rainbow Centre.
She told reporters yesterday: "I am very happy to do packing and serving. I was nervous at the start, but I met a lot of friends on the job and they taught me."