Singapore – The issue of hiring practices and preferences for PMETs was highlighted by the public after news of more firms were added to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) watchlist for possible discriminatory hiring.
According to a straitstimes.com report on Thursday (August 6), one of the 47 firms added to the watch list was a wealth management firm that had a workforce where almost 75 per cent of its professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) were of the same nationality. Meanwhile, 18 had more than half of their pool of PMETs comprised of foreigners, significantly more than their industry competitors.
MOM said on Wednesday (August 5) that another 47 employers were included on the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watch list for potentially discriminatory hiring practices. A total of 30 of the 47 firms placed on the watchlist belong to the financial service and professional service sectors and have a high concentration of PMETs from single nationality. There are currently a total of 190 firms under the two industries included in the watchlist.
According to MOM, some of the employers claimed they had followed the proper hiring processes yet were unable to source local workers that fit the role based on expertise or experience. Among the technical positions to be filled were senior software engineers and UX designers. However, the firms had not cast their net wide enough, said MOM who mentioned using the Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) to find potential candidates.
Members from the online community felt like more could be done when it comes to prioritising local PMETs over foreigners. “The excuse that they (firms) cannot find local workers with the required expertise or experience is a lame excuse,” commented Facebook user Au Kah Kay. The concerned citizen mentioned the industrial placement and internship programmes offered by tertiary institutions which should provide firms with graduates willing to gain the expertise given the opportunity. “Do graduates from developing and third world countries with dubious qualifications possess the expertise and experience that Singaporean graduates lack?” asked the netizen.
Others noted that the action shouldn’t stop at putting companies on the watchlist. “The Ministry should find out why they find Singaporeans are not suitable for the jobs and match them with Singaporeans who have lost their job and stop issuing work passes for these companies,” Facebook user Harry Sathasivam suggested. Netizens provided other options such as deducting a portion of foreign PMET’s salaries and setting that aside for Singaporean low-wage earners and foreign workers.
Another suggestion was to issue E- or S-passes with limited validity. Facebook user Bolly Man commented, “Three to five years is more than enough for them to transfer their know-how to the locals here.” If no time frame is set, then more locals will not be employed, and the situation remains the same, he added, calling for more transparency and the eradication of a “lopsided policy.”
A few Facebook users also noted that it was MOM who approved the work passes of foreign PMETs “so it makes no sense for MOM to tell us now of the discovery of biased hiring to favour foreigners.”
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