New Ruling Makes Expat Jobs in Singapore Harder to Come By
Singapore’s relaxed, safe environment, culturally diverse population, welcoming attitude and thriving local economy have enticed thousands of expats over the years. Although the cost of living in the city state is notoriously high, expats can command a good wage in sectors like financial & insurance services, information & communications and business services.
But with unemployment on the rise globally, Singapore has followed in the footsteps of several other areas and begun pushing for a greater emphasis on local hiring.
Although Singapore’s unemployment rate is comparatively low, especially when you consider the 26 per cent jobless level in Spain, it did rise from 1.90 per cent in the first quarter to 2.10 per cent in the second quarter.
Consequently, at the beginning of the week the Ministry of Manpower announced that firms with over 25 employees will have to advertise job vacancies for positions paying under 12,000 Singapore Dollars to local residents for a minimum of two weeks. Only if no suitable local applicants are found within this timeframe is an employment pass for a foreign national allowed to be issued.
Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin issued the following statement with the decision; ‘Providing better jobs and diverse opportunities to meet Singaporeans’ aspirations are the ultimate objectives of economic growth. Even as we remain open to foreign manpower to complement our local workforce, all firms must make an effort to consider Singaporeans fairly [...] What we are doing is to put in place measures to nudge employers to give Singaporeans – especially our young graduates and Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) – a fair chance at both job and development opportunities [...] We must set expectations about what is acceptable and what is not. It requires persuasion, explanation, and leading by example. The worst employers must be taken to task. This is the context for the Fair Consideration Framework.’
It is hoped that the new guidelines will be of benefit both to Singaporean jobseekers and employers, as employers will gain access to a greater number of candidates.
The qualifying salary for employment pass holders has also been raised to a minimum of 3,300 Singapore Dollars per month, with both rulings coming into effect in 2014.
One recruiter with eFinancial Careers asserted that ‘It will prompt employers to look closer to home before jumping overseas. But at the end of the day, companies will hire the best people for the job. In any case, companies we speak to want to hire Singaporeans, it’s much easier to hire someone locally.’
And while expats already based in Singapore know that it will make employment conditions even more competitive, they can appreciate why the government has taken this step.
Conan Hales, a British expat with permanent residency in Singapore, said this of the decision; ‘The government is trying to balance making Singapore an internationally competitive location for work as well as ensuring local nationals get a fair representation [...] Good employers hire on merit so it’s up to Singaporeans to prove themselves in the internationally competitive marketplace on their ability at the end of the day.’
What do you think of the changes being made to the laws regarding foreign employment in Singapore?
Do you think the decision makes things fairer? Or will Singapore miss out by limiting employment opportunities for foreign nationals?
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