Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo addressed employers from 50 different firms during a conference held by the American Chamber of Commerce on Thursday (Nov 21).
She spoke about the responsibility of employers to practise fair and just hiring and promotion for their employees.
Such practices, she added, reduces Singaporeans’ anxieties towards foreign coworkers in the workplace.
“As employers, you can help to push back the negative forces that stoke such fears. The lived experiences of your employees can either be a strong defence against irrationality, or they can reinforce these beliefs,” she said as quoted in a report by the Straits Times.
Minister Teo also said that cultural diversity in the workplace can help employers and businesses lessen and avoid risks.
“It may be expedient to recruit from familiar sources, but please do not keep jobs to closed circles of ‘friends’. Perceptions about competence, or the lack thereof, can also be toxic.”
She reported that the MOM receives complaints from businesses about both foreign workers and Singaporeans.
The former are worried that MOM guidelines restrict their ability to grow in the workplace, while the latter argue that the rules for hiring and promoting foreign workers are too lenient.
Locals may feel excluded and passed over when applying for jobs.
Minister Teo explained that the local workforce consists of only 2.3 million workers, so it was necessary to hire foreign labour to fill the 3.4 million demand of the economy.
“Help us keep Singapore open by ensuring that your teams are diverse and by paying attention to fairness at work,” she told the employers at the conference.
In October, Minister Teo advised employers to tap on the Career Support Programme of the MOM to expand the pool of available job seekers in the country.
She also noted that employers must be willing to train and hire mid-career candidates to employ older and even senior Singaporeans, which she described as an “untapped pool of manpower.”/TISG