SINGAPORE (Mar 27): Steep cuts to airline operations amid the Covid-19 outbreak might have led to the grounding of thousands of workers in Singapore, but some employees at aviation firms here have risen to the challenge.
Amid the suspension of flights, crew from Singapore Airlines, Jetstar Asia and SATS will take on temporary public service roles to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The contract positions, which range from one to six months, will see these employees deployed in roles which have seen a surge in manpower needed as a result of the increase in coronavirus-related operations.
For instance, Safe Distancing Ambassadors and SG Clean Ambassadors are needed at coffeeshops and hawker centres to advise patrons on safe distancing requirements, and the importance of practising good social norms and personal habits.
Raffles Medical Group has also opened up roles for Health Care Assistants at the airport, to monitor and direct passengers who may need assistance.
This is part of Singapore’s SGUnited Jobs initiative announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on March 26. The initiative aims to create some 10,000 jobs over the next year.
“The public sector will take the lead. Our agencies have been planning our manpower needs early, and there is a range of jobs which we need to fill in emerging areas,” Heng says. “We will accelerate hiring plans to fill these roles, while giving our people meaningful employment opportunities.”
“The best way to safeguard the wellbeing of our people is by supporting them to stay employed,” he adds.
To help businesses in the aviation sector retain their local workers, the government is also spending more than $400 million in an enhanced Jobs Support Scheme. This will see aviation firms receive a total of 75% wage offset for every local worker in employment, for the first $4,600 of monthly wages.
In addition, Heng has introduced a $350 million enhanced aviation support package to fund measures such as rebates on landing and parking charges, as well as rental relief for airlines, ground handlers and cargo agents.
Already, low-cost airline Jetstar Asia reports that more than a third of its crew have taken up temporary roles with the Singapore Food Agency, National Environment Agency and Raffles Medical Group.
The company says it has been working with the Ministry of Finance, the Public Service Division, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to find temporary job opportunities offered by the public agencies and the private sector institutions.
“Jetstar Asia’s crew’s reputation for providing the highest levels of customer service has meant that our people have been highly sought after when it comes to filling these roles,” says Jetstar Asia CEO Bara Pasupathi.
The way Pasupathi sees it, these employees are “excellent candidates” in these important roles to help Singapore prevent the spread of Covid-19. After all, he says, they are already experienced in ensuring the safety and well-being of the public, and also possess necessary traits such as listening and empathy.
“[These temporary roles] allow our crew the opportunity to work and support themselves, contribute to the community and also be ready to return to their full-time positions when we are ready to resume flying,” he adds.