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Remember, remember, our unemployment rate in September 2020?
According to figures released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), that month saw the highest number of unemployed people in Singapore — at 3.6% of our total population; of which over 112,500 were Singapore citizens and permanent residents. Part of this number were those who were retrenched, over 20,000 workers had lost their jobs since January 2020.
Thankfully in 2021, more of us are finding employment, and the rate of unemployment has decreased. In February, fewer Singapore citizens and permanent residents were jobless, about 96,800 workers, and economists predict an even more pronounced improvement moving forward. In May, unemployment rate eased to 2.8%, and preliminary figures on the MOM website show that this has further inched down to 2.7% in June.
However, we shouldn’t be complacent just because things seem to be looking up and Covid-19 vaccinations are underway (76% of Singapore’s total population has completed the full regimen as of 17 August 2021. Not to be a wet blanket, but cases are still surging globally and there’s been a recent large cluster of community cases in Singapore that involved the Jurong Fishery Port and KTV lounges. Unemployment figures, though on a downward trend, are still higher compared to pre-Covid-19 days.
The good news is, amid this uncertainty, government initiatives and other support schemes are still steadfast. If you happen to be in the ~3% of the population who is facing unemployment or have been recently retrenched, there are a couple of ways to get help.
If you’re not sure how to begin or who to approach — or don’t feel comfortable asking around for whatever reason — one way to get back on your feet is via a self-help app that costs you absolutely nothing.
About the LifeSG app
If you’re not yet familiar with the LifeSG app, it’s like a personalised app that helps you to quickly access and navigate through various government services from multiple public agencies — such as renewing your HDB season parking, checking your CPF balance, managing the work permit for a helper, and so on.
Developed by the Government Technology Agency Singapore (GovTech), the LifeSG app is part of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative to provide us with access to simpler digital services and information… and yes, it is totally free to download and use.
In addition to services, the LifeSG app also provides up-to-date resources on prevalent issues of the time, such as consolidated information on Covid-19 support schemes, employment support, or the latest updates on new policies or initiatives like the tax filing season (and the available tax reliefs and rebates), as well as information on the easing community measures. You can even check the status of your application for certain government services such as birth registration for the precious little one you’re welcoming into your life.
One of the robust sections on the LifeSG app is the employment support module, powered by Workforce Singapore (WSG), SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) as well as tripartite agencies. The aim: To help retrenched workers and jobseekers during the Covid-19 outbreak and beyond.
Want to know more? You can download the LifeSG app and check out the tips below to find support, new jobs and even upskilling opportunities, all via the free app:
It’s important to seek support ASAP if you’re retrenched. For one, it helps to know that you’re not in this alone. However, a more practical reason is that access to such a system can help if you were wrongly dismissed, get you urgent financial help, and of course, motivate you to take the next step for your career.
On the home screen of the LifeSG app, it’s easy to spot the Guides: Retrenchment benefits and measures tile. Click in to quickly read about what you’re eligible for when you’re retrenched, including a notice period, retrenchment benefits, alternatives to retrenchment and so on.
In short, this helps you know your rights as an employee and can guide you to act accordingly. You might even be able to negotiate with your employer after reading up on the alternatives to retrenchment, which can include a temporary layoff, shorter work weeks or redeployment to another job function in the company.
Scroll down further and you’ll also find Financial Support for Workers & the Self-Employed, under the “Discover your next career steps and find support” section.
Through the LifeSG app, users can also get support for their job search. In this section, you can explore suitable jobs, meet a career coach for one-to-one counselling, search for job positions, and have access to information on available government support.
From the Home Screen (see our first screengrab above), you’ll also see a tile on Benefits: Budget 2021 Eligibility Checker. This helps you find out which available support schemes are applicable to you. For example the Covid-19 Recovery Grant for those who lost their jobs or were put on no-pay leave and other government initiatives.
Find a new job
As much as we’d love to stop working and enjoy life, most of us need a steady income as we have ongoing commitments such as bills to pay, family to feed, mortgage, insurance and so on. Especially for the sole breadwinner of a family, it can be a very stressful time as unemployment means you need to dip into your emergency savings.
Discover your interests through a self-assessment tool so you can get a better idea of what jobs you can consider in the future. Who knows? This may lead to you discovering new passions and/or expanding your job search criteria.
You can also meet with a career coach from Workforce Singapore’s Careers Connect or NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute. This service, which helps you personalise your career plan, gain interview skills and more, is totally free of charge.
The LifeSG app also offers avenues for individuals to find job opportunities online, including virtual career fairs, through the MyCareersFuture portal, or even through government schemes such as via the SGUnited traineeship or Mid-career Pathways.
If you’re considering a career switch or if you’re a lower-income worker who needs support, this support section would be helpful too. There’s even employment support for persons with disabilities.
Find upskilling opportunities
Whether you’re currently unemployed or still employed but looking out for better opportunities, it’s important to continue upgrading your skill sets instead of staying stagnant. Employers see value in those who are self-starters that take the initiative to enhance their professional growth and are able to keep up with the changing times.
Even if your skills are up to date, picking up new knowledge in a different yet closely related field can expand your scope for future jobs, help you transition into a new role, advance your career and more — all while enhancing your employability.
Via the LifeSG app, within the Support for your job search section, there’s a sub-section on upgrading your skills. Here you’ll find courses from over 32 different sectors, pick up transferable skills such as navigating a digital workplace, and improve your employability for job hunting.
Some workshops include the basics, such as the Career Energiser at WSG, a series of workshops that aims to enhance your resume crafting, interview skills and even personal branding and social networking. You can also quickly access the MySkillsFuture portal or look for training programmes in 8 up-and-coming key areas such as cyber security, digital media, data analytics and so on via the SkillsFuture Series.
Back to the Support for your job search section, there is a sub-section on application for training funds and grants. Check out what’s available as well as the eligibility criteria, in order to subsidise your quest for upskilling.
It’s also helpful that on the Home Page of the LifeSG app, you can also view your benefits and support at a glance, which includes your SkillsFuture Credit available balance, and even SingapoRediscovers Vouchers (Singpass login may be required).
Whatever your employment situation, it doesn’t hurt to have this useful LifeSG app in your pocket.
Download the LifeSG app (available on both Apple app store and Google Play Store) to get all the help and resources you need to take charge of your career.