Tharman: No one is too old to hire, too qualified to adapt

No employer should think someone is too old to hire or that those with higher skills are overqualified or not adaptable enough, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Wednesday in a Facebook post on the jobs challenge for Singapore amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Tharman, who chairs the new National Jobs Council, said after its first meeting that it will pay special attention to middle-aged and mature Singaporeans.

The Government is providing very strong support for employers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, he noted, adding: "Every employer must be part of our national team in overcoming the jobs challenge. Those who prefer to stay on the sidelines will find themselves being asked tough questions by MOM (Ministry of Manpower) about how they are abiding by the Fair Consideration Framework."

The framework requires employers to consider the local workforce fairly and not discriminate on factors such as age, gender or race.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the council in his Fortitude Budget last week and is an adviser to the group.

Mr Tharman said where people cannot get a job, opportunities to be at work such as temporary jobs, internships and other forms of training have to be created.

"They all give people skills, exposure and experience, that they carry with them into longer-term career opportunities eventually," he said. "No amount of unemployment benefits can compensate for not having a job and for the social stagnation and loss of optimism about the future that comes when a large segment of the population feels redundant and out of sorts.

"We must never get there," he added.

The National Jobs Council will work in the coming months to grow jobs and training opportunities on a much greater scale than anything attempted before, said Mr Tharman.

The high-level council has 17 members, including eight ministers and representatives from the labour movement and business associations. It will oversee the design and implementation of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

The package aims to support close to 100,000 job seekers over the next 12 months by creating new vacancies, traineeships and skills training places.

The council will align its work and implementation strategies with those of the Future Economy Council and Emerging Stronger Taskforce.

The Straits Times

"No amount of unemployment benefits can compensate for not having a job and for the social stagnation and loss of optimism about the future that comes when a large segment of the population feels redundant and out of sorts. We must never get there." - Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam

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