Monday, 1 June 2020

Singapore secured $13 billion in investment commitments in Jan-Apr 2020; thousands of jobs to be created: Chan Chun Sing

Investment commitments in first 4 months of 2020 reflect investors' confidence in Singapore, he says
By Timothy Goh, The Sunday Times, 31 May 2020

A total of $13 billion in investment commitments has been secured by Singapore in the first four months of this year - among the highest in recent years. This will create thousands of jobs in areas such as electronics, energy and chemicals.

Among the companies that have made investment commitments are tech firm Micron, which intends to add 1,500 jobs here over the next few years, and ExxonMobil, which is expanding its refining and petrochemical complex.

The amount secured by the Economic Development Board (EDB) is higher than the yearly amounts secured from 2013 to 2018, and exceeds the $8 billion to $10 billion initially projected for the whole of this year. EDB secured $15.2 billion last year.

Announcing the figures at a press briefing yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing also outlined a road map for how the Government intends to generate investments and jobs to manage the fallout of the pandemic, with the economy forecast to shrink by as much as 7 per cent.

The steps to be taken range from helping companies hire ahead of demand, to initiating projects to encourage innovation.

He said: "Now that we have gotten a grip on the infection curve, the next few months' priority is to flatten the unemployment and recession curves."

The minister noted that unemployment here had risen to 3 per cent - a rate that is "much better" than initially feared.

However, Singapore cannot afford to be complacent. Mr Chan said: "If we can't get back to the pre-COVID world, and we can't get to the post-COVID world quickly, then chances are that we will have to learn to live and make a living in the COVID world."

He said the $13 billion attracted by EDB reflects the confidence investors and businesses have in Singapore's economy.

Asked what incentives were given to woo the companies, he said what is far more important are factors such as Singapore's skills, trade policies and connectivity.

EDB executive vice-president Kelvin Wong said that COVID-19 notwithstanding, previously committed investments that are due to be realised over the next three to five years remain on track.

"Some projects may take a longer time to be implemented due to current disruptions to construction timelines," he told The Sunday Times, adding that companies with the capacity to plan for the longer term have continued to engage EDB on new projects.

Other companies, such as Lazada and Shopee, are continuing to hire despite the poor economy, said Mr Chan.

Lazada Singapore chief executive James Chang said the company recently hired 500 staff in response to a surge in orders. It has about 100 more vacancies, and is looking for people with skill sets in data analysis, machine learning, logistics planning and account servicing.

Shopee said it was hiring for business development, software engineering and marketing.

Mr Chan said not every job from the old economy will be preserved, but the Government is determined to help every Singaporean and business here make the shift.

He noted that businesses cannot predict future demand, owing to uncertainty, and so are hesitant about hiring.

To counter this, the Government will partner companies as well as trade associations and chambers to help them hire and train workers. More details will be announced.

The Government will also invest to create new opportunities, while encouraging innovation that can address Singapore's long-term challenges, he said.

One such project is by JTC Corporation. In the middle of next month, it will launch a $4 million effort to digitalise the construction and facilities management sectors to improve productivity and focus on sustainable construction methods and materials, and reduce reliance on foreign manpower.

Companies will also be encouraged to innovate and adopt solutions in areas such as big data, under a Trade and Connectivity Challenge 2020. Winners will receive a prize of up to $70,000, and those eligible will also receive a grant.

SGUnited Traineeships Programme: Graduating students can apply for over 11,000 traineeships from 1 June 2020
Over 1,000 organisations will offer places under SGUnited Traineeships Programme
By Fabian Koh, The Straits Times, 1 Jun 2020

Graduates will be able to apply for traineeships under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme from today, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said on Facebook yesterday.

And to make it easier for students to search for the traineeships that suit them, a Virtual Career Fair for traineeships will be held later this month.

"To ensure that our graduates have a meaningful traineeship experience, we work closely with interested host organisations to put in place traineeships with clear development plans, before these traineeships get approved by Singapore Business Federation (SBF), our programme partner," said Mrs Teo.

There has been very encouraging interest, she said, with over 1,000 organisations stepping forward so far to offer over 11,000 traineeships.

The vast majority are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such as Carousell, Yang Kee Logistics, Spic & Span and SGAG Media. There are also large companies like United Overseas Bank, Singtel, DBS and Baxter Healthcare.

"Our graduates can look forward to traineeships across familiar roles in the areas of marketing, finance, sales support, supply chain and quality assurance and also more niche ones such as sports nutrition, social work, venture capital and 3D printing," said Mrs Teo.

"A good number of traineeships are in areas such as security penetration testing and operational risk analysis, which are aligned to our plans in the various sectors' ITMs (industry transformation maps), giving these trainees a good head start for the future economy," she added.

Mrs Teo said the public service would also offer traineeship opportunities, together with institutes of higher learning such as the Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Social Sciences.

The Manpower Minister said that close attention was being paid to recent graduates, as the COVID-19 situation had brought about uncertainty in their search for jobs.

"It is not the easiest of times to be entering the job market. As a mother of three, I recognise their worries, as well as those of their parents," she said. "We want to help these young Singaporeans start their careers on a good footing and not let COVID-19 derail their plans and aspirations."

She also encouraged graduating students to make full use of the developmental opportunities to build their networks, skills and resumes.

"It is not the same as landing a permanent job, but this traineeship - like a sturdy umbrella amidst the downpour - will help sustain you till you reach the next step in your career."

The traineeships initiative was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in his third supplementary budget speech, dubbed the Fortitude Budget, last Tuesday.

Mrs Teo said the SGUnited Traineeships Programme will provide up to 21,000 traineeship opportunities for the graduates which aim to let them acquire valuable industry-relevant experience, develop skills and expand their professional networks. This will, in turn, give them a firmer foothold in the job market once the economy recovers from the pandemic.

There will also be traineeships for mid-career workers under the programme and more details about these will be provided at a later date.

Those interested can apply online at this website.

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