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Chan Chun Sing says new employment pass is “not about replacing the locals”

"These are the entrepreneurs that we want. It is not about working for one particular company to take the locals’ jobs," said Mr Chan

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Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Singh said yesterday (12 Nov) that the new targeted employment pass, Tech.Pass, will not displace local workers and is meant to strengthen Singapore.

Tech.Pass, which was launched yesterday, aims to attract founders, leaders and technical experts with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies to contribute to the development of Singapore’s tech ecosystem. It differs from the current employment pass system in that applicants will not need to be sponsored by a particular company.

The new scheme will allow pass holders flexibility in the activities such as starting and operating a business, being an investor, employee, consultant or director in one or more Singapore-based companies, mentoring start-ups and lecturing at local universities

Tech.Pass will be open for application in January 2021, with 500 places available upon launch.

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The Government has positioned the new scheme as part of Singapore’s multi-pronged approach to develop a strong base of technology companies and talent to ensure Singapore remains globally competitive. It has also said that Tech.Pass will “create more opportunities for local tech talent to work in globally competitive teams alongside top tech talent from all over the world.”

Mr Chan unveiled Tech.Pass at a closed-door dialogue with the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) yesterday. At the meeting, Mr Chan spoke about how there is a need to meet the demand for global talent. He said:

“Let’s be very frank. Not even huge countries like the  U.S. and China will claim that they have sufficient talent, much less a more diverse slate of talent that comprises people with different talent.

“We also have our work cut out for us, to meet the surging demand for skilled manpower from companies that are in Singapore, and companies that want to bring such people to Singapore. If we do not compete for these companies, we will lose them quickly to other locations.”

Echoing a statement he made more than a year ago, Mr Chan added: “We rather the top talents be competing on the side of Team Singapore than competing against Singapore.”

Chan Chun Sing claims ‘top’ foreign talent are “competing for Singapore” instead of competing with locals

At the dialogue with EuroCham, Mr Chan continued that Tech.Pass aims to draw in “top-end global talents” to come to Singapore to create new business opportunities either by themselves, in partnership with Singapore companies or in partnership with institutes of higher learning “to morph the next generation of tech talent.”

He added: “This is a programme where we will not just be looking at someone’s credentials in terms of qualifications but really on how they have contributed to the global tech ecosystem.

“This is not one whereby mid-tier people will come in and compete at a level of the employment pass. These are really the top talent that we are looking for.”

Mr Chan also answered questions on whether Tech.Pass will cause local workers to face more job competition. Asserting that the new scheme will put foreign talent in a “different category” from employment pass holders, the ruling party politician said:

“This is not about replacing the locals…These are the entrepreneurs that we want. It is not about working for one particular company to take the locals’ jobs — this is a totally different kettle of fish altogether.”

He added that Tech.Pass holders will “bring with them not just the knowledge and networks, but also the kind of contacts that they have across the entire global system…so that this will strengthen ourselves as a tech hub for the region, if not for the world.”

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