EX-OFFENDERS ASSISTED UNDER JOBS GROWTH INCENTIVE SCHEME
In 2020, I had suggested in Parliament that the Jobs Growth Incentive, which was a programme designed to help vulnerable people get and retain jobs during the pandemic, be extended to ex-offenders. DPM Heng, in his capacity as Finance Minister then, kindly agreed to my suggestion. As the programme will be ending in about 2 months’ time, I thought it was an opportune to time to review how effective the programme was in helping ex-offenders during the pandemic. Minister Tan See Leng, in his reply, informed that 2,300 ex-offenders were helped as at May 2022. The ex-offenders had access to jobs in industries such as precision engineering, professional services, etc which would have offered better prospects and security. My PQ and the Minister’s response may be accessed through the link below.
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Mr Murali Pillai asked the Minister for Manpower (a) how many ex-offenders have been assisted under the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) scheme up to the end of the year 2022; (b) what are the top 10 industries that employ ex-offenders under the JGI; and (c) what steps have been taken to promote a higher take-up rate of the JGI amongst ex-offenders before the scheme expires on 31 March 2023.
The Minister for Manpower (Dr Tan See Leng): Based on the latest available data, the Jobs Growth Incentive (JGI) has supported the hiring of approximately 2,300 ex-offenders as at May 2022. The implementation of the JGI has been accompanied by an increase in interest among employers to partner with Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) to hire ex-offenders.
The top ten sectors which have employed ex-offenders with JGI support are as follows: One, environmental services, logistics, food services, wholesale trade, construction, retail, professional services, food manufacturing, precision engineering and real estate — the ten top sectors. These sectors collectively account for over eight in 10 ex-offenders hired with JGI support.
To promote the take-up of the JGI amongst employers for hiring ex-offenders, YRSG has been raising awareness of the JGI and other available support amongst employers. Employers who hire ex-offenders directly through YRSG, Industrial and Services Co-operative Society or halfway houses engaged by the Singapore Prison Service will automatically receive JGI if they meet the eligibility criteria for JGI.
Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok): Mr Speaker, Sir, I am glad to note the reasonably good take-up rate of the JGI by about 2,300 ex-offenders. May I ask the hon Minister whether in his view, these ex-offenders had got into good jobs, not just in terms of jobs offering prospects but jobs offering security. And if so, after the expiry of the JGI in March 2023, I wonder whether the Ministry may want to continue provide incentives for ex-offenders to get into such jobs so that not just they benefit, their families benefit, but society-at-large benefits because we will be able to actualise their potential and ensure as far as possible, that they leave their past behind.
Dr Tan See Leng: I thank the Member for his supplementary questions. Indeed, as I have shared earlier on, ex-offenders have been employed in a fairly wide-ranging range of sectors, as mentioned in my reply earlier on. And the implementation of the JGI has been accompanied by increased also in the number of employers registering with YRSG and them hiring them through YRSG. YRSG has also been seeking to on board more companies from the growth sectors. Today, we view that all of these sectors and quite a sizable number of them continue to remain in employment nine months after they have been placed in the first place. We feel that this provides a very positive and very, very promising insights for us to continue to help them.
With regards to post-March when the JGI programme is sunset down, I want to also reiterate that the JGI is an extraordinary measure and this was introduced during COVID-19 to support employers to expand local hiring and is not a permanent — not envisaged and not planned to be a permanent scheme. We are reviewing future plans to see how we can help, taking into consideration the economic, the labour market situation as well as the outlook.
As we speak, there are other employment support measures today by YRSG and these will continue to be available to ex-offenders and employers beyond March 2023. Some of these programmes include skills training for inmates consisting of combination of literacy skills, critical core skills and technical skills. Placement services, career retention support as well as career coaches advisory services to match inmates with suitable employers and to help them remain gainfully employed. YRSG continues to establish partnerships and they are recruiting more employees to join them.
By recruiting, by increasing the number of partnerships with employers, we then put out Train and Place and Grow initiative, we helped to set up training academies in prison and capability building opportunities to help supervisors better mentor ex-offender employees.
MOM alongside with MHA, we are looking into other ways to encourage more employers to hire ex-offenders. To the Member’s suggestion in terms of our policy review, we certainly would take them on board.