SINGAPORE: Larger firms in Singapore that have at least 30% foreign professional, managerial, executive, and technician (PMET) workforce have stayed consistent over the past ten years, at 20%, as per the latest data by Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng on May 7.

The Straits Times reported that in a written response to a parliamentary question by Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai.

Dr Tan revealed that in 2023, the figure was slightly higher for small firms employing under 25 PMETs, at 28%. However, on average, over the past ten years, around 20% of small firms have had a foreign PMET share of 30% or more.

Dr Tan highlighted that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) distinguishes between small firms with fewer than 25 PMETs and larger firms with 25 or more PMETs.

This differentiation is crucial because small firms often have a tiny PMET base, making their proportion of foreign PMETs prone to fluctuations.

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Explaining further, Dr Tan pointed out:

The median number of PMETs in small firms which hire PMETs is only two. This means that even with one foreign PMET, the median small firm would have exceeded the 30 per cent foreign PMET share, or 20 per cent single nationality share.

Dr Tan emphasised the importance of examining the workforce profile of larger firms with 25 or more PMETs, as they tend to have more stable workforce compositions and hire most Employment Pass (EP) holders.

Despite small firms constituting 96% of all firms in Singapore, they only employ about 30% of EP holders, Dr Tan added.

The minister noted that over the last decade, a consistent 10% of larger firms had employees of a single foreign nationality, accounting for more than 20% of all PMETs they employed.

Meanwhile, the figure averaged about 20% for small firms over the same period, though it spiked to 30% in 2023.

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Dr Tan assured that “MOM will continue to closely monitor the workforce profile of all firms and adjust our policy levers where appropriate.”

In a separate response to PSP Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa, Dr Tan said that, on average, 29,200 newly approved EP applications over the last five years underwent the Fair Consideration Framework job advertising criteria and were initially listed on the MyCareersFuture portal.

He added that approximately 2% of all recent EP applications were turned down due to incorrectly claiming exemption from these job advertising prerequisites. 

In the last five years, more than 600 EP applications were either pulled back or not accepted after looking into employers who seemed to be choosing foreigners for jobs without following the rules properly. /TISG