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Proportion of PMET retrenchment hits all-time high while number of foreigners on S-Pass increases

Highest retrenchment percentage for PMETs at 75.8 per cent with 34 per cent being in the 40 to 49 age bracket

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The latest labour marker report, released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (14 Mar), shows that the proportion of PMET retrenchment has hit an all-time high while the number of foreigners on S-Pass has increased.

MOM revealed that Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) account for a whopping 79.3 per cent of retrenched residents in the last quarter of 2018. Overall, this means that PMETs make up a staggering 75.8 per cent of all retrenchments for 2018 – 3.8 per cent higher than the total PMET retrenchment of 72 per cent in 2017.

2018’s PMET retrenchment percentage of 75.8 per cent is the highest proportion of PMET retrenchment since the MOM first made such data publicly available in 2006.

Explaining the high proportion of PMET retrenchment, MOM said that PMETs tend to dominate the industries that are shedding manpower.

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MOM’s latest labour market report also shows that the majority of retrenched residents were above the age of 40. Retrenched residents between the ages of 40 and 49 made up 34 per cent of all retrenchments while retrenched residents aged 50 and above made up 33.6 per cent of all retrenchments.

The labour market report also showed that 58 per cent of retrenched residents had degrees while 19.9 per cent held diplomas.

Meanwhile, MOM’s data shows that the number of S-Pass holders has increased and that the number of foreign S-Pass holders grew by 11,100 across all sectors.

MOM said: “The increase was led by the Services sector, with the highest growth seen in Administrative & Support Services, Food Services, Information & Communications, Professional Services, and Transportation & Storage.”

Last month, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that the Government will significantly reduce the foreign worker quota and S Pass worker ratio for the services sector, as he delivered his budget speech.

The Finance Minister said that foreign manpower growth could be on “an unsustainable path” if current trends persists. He added: “Relying on more and more foreign workers is not the long-term solution.”

It is curious that the Government is only now making the decision to slash the foreign worker quota and S-Pass worker ratio for the services sector – a sector that many Singaporeans have the skills to be employed in.

It is also unclear whether these changes mean that excessive S-passes and work permits were given to foreigners who applied to work in the local services sector in the past.

The timing of the foreign worker quota changes is also notable, especially given speculation that the Government may call the next General Election as early as this year.

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