MPs call for greater support to help workers get through Covid-19
Suggestions include boosting their digital preparedness and granting them eligibility for lost-income relief
Since he was retrenched from his sales job that drew a five-figure monthly salary, Mr Tan has attended job fairs and sent out multiple resumes.
But the 50-year-old, who lives in a terrace house, remains unemployed and works as a Grab driver to make ends meet.
He does not qualify for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs) because of the type of home he lives in, said Mr Yip Hong Weng (Yio Chu Kang), who recounted Mr Tan's case in Parliament yesterday.
"I still remember his parting words to me at MPS (Meet-the-people session): 'I have been paying taxes all my life before this. Why is the Government not helping me now?'" said Mr Yip, who was among several MPs who called for more help to be given to workers, including those who have been retrenched or are unemployed.
He suggested that one way to help them is to boost their digital preparedness, which the Government can do by coming up with a programme to improve their digital skills.
"It can even be something basic like enhancing their online job search and communication skills. This can be done, for example, via community classes to learn Excel skills and how to use Zoom effectively for team meetings," he added.
Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang), speaking up for mid-career PMETs, or professionals, managers, executives and technicians, said they face "tremendous pressure" to find a job swiftly to support their families.
For this reason, it is crucial to continue supporting the SGUnited Jobs and Skills centres, which were set up across all 24 Housing Board towns since July to provide career matching services for jobseekers.
Mr Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC) proposed that the self-employed who suffer income loss also be given Sirs, which means they can receive three quarterly cash payouts of $3,000 each, in May, July and October.
Noting that the last Sirs payout is to be made this month, Mr Ang urged the Government to consider extending the scheme for six months, giving varying amounts for as long as the recipient needs help.
The eligible sums could hinge, among other things, on the person's past income or type of housing, he suggested.
He also wants the Sirs criteria to be eased so that more people would qualify.
Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, speaking in this debate on how Singapore can emerge stronger after Covid-19, assured the House that the Government will continue to work closely with workers, businesses, and industry partners to help them get through the pandemic.
Jobs and livelihoods will be affected as Singapore restructures its economy, but he is confident that by adapting and transforming the country's workers and businesses, it will be able to seize new opportunities and overcome the difficulties, as it did before.
"We have been through many ups and downs over the years, but we have always bounced back from adversity. We will continue to press on with resilience and overcome this challenge together," he said.