Singapore — A report from a global news group notes that Singaporeans are becoming increasingly uneasy with the globalisation of jobs as competition has become harder amidst the economic slowdown.
The Jan 19 report, entitled “Globalization of Job Market Riles Singapore Locals”, published in In-Depth News (IDN), the flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate, notes that the high population of foreign nationals is increasingly seen as a threat by locals when it comes to vying for jobs (although the report erroneously cites the population of Singapore as four million with one million foreign nationals, while the population stood at 5.7 million in June 2019, of which 1.68 million are non-residents).
The report states that the Government has had to take action against local businesses that have not followed the Fair Consideration Framework, which requires business owners to advertise on the national Job Bank for at least a fortnight job openings for positions that have a salary of less than S$15,000 a month before an Employment Pass for a foreign national can be sought.
Ms Josephine Teo, the Manpower Minister, said earlier this month “in places where the workforce is multinational, like Singapore, perceptions of discrimination against locals are particularly toxic”, adding that there have been more than 2,000 complaints of discrimination of locals in the last four years that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices has followed up on.
The IDN report quotes Kim Tan, a middle-aged technology professional, as saying: “The employment issue in Singapore is a complicated one. Locals, especially those after 40s, are finding it hard to get jobs that could provide them with remuneration to educate children and look after aging parents.”
“The 40s to 50s age group looses jobs at a stage in their lives when they can least afford it,” he added. “Searching for their inability to get jobs, many identify the liberal immigration policies by the Singapore government as the major reason.”
Employers sometimes choose to hire foreigners since they are contractually obligated to stay at that job for a certain amount of time.
Ms Elizabeth Wong, a businesswoman, told IDN: “It is not easy to run a small business if the Singapore staff job hop all the time.
“If I get a foreign worker, she will be ‘bonded’ to the job for at least 2 years because the Work Permit is linked to the job.”
“It is no problem for MNCs (multinational companies) but for SMEs it is a big problem. I bring in good experienced foreigners who are able to train locals.”
He believes that “the Government needs to look at Employment Pass applications on a case-by-case basis. It is SMEs, not MNCs, that are innovating here. Applying this framework across the board will kill local start-ups.”
Kim Tan added that foreigners are generally more flexible workers than locals because “they are more likely to work overtime, unlike their local counterparts who might have to take care of their children and parents. Foreign workers’ lower flexibility in changing jobs makes them more attractive to employers who are frustrated with high turnover rates.”
He said this is an issue for the Government to address.
“The challenge for the Singapore Government is to maintain a balance between ensuring employment for locals and letting in quality foreigners to add to the talent pool.” -/TISG