The Singaporean Government revealed measures that would encourage companies to consider local residents in the recruitment process in an attempt to help them get a fair opportunity when it comes to employment. Companies operating in Singapore will need to advertise job vacancies in a job bank administered by the government for two weeks, before applying to fill positions with foreign workers. This new policy aims to eliminate discriminatory practices in the local labour market and consider Singaporeans fairly; a policy that reflects the fundamental values of fairness and meritocracy in the country. Nevertheless, the downside of the new measures is that they will generate more challenges for multinational firms doing business in the Southeast Asian state.
Investing in local manpower
Placing more emphasis on local human resource and providing better jobs and different opportunities to locals will contribute to attaining the objectives of economic growth in the city-state by developing a local talent pipeline. According to the acting Minister for Manpower - Tan Chuan-Jin - the implementation of the proposed measures seek to push employers to give locals – especially young graduates and professionals, managers and executives – a fair chance to find job and develop.
Foreign workforce in Singapore
Singapore is a tiny state that depends heavily on overseas labor particularly in the construction industry, service market as well as financial and legal sectors. According to the figures of the Singaporean Ministry of Manpower, foreign workforce numbers increased between 2007 - 2013 from 900,000 to 1,296,800. At the end of 2012, foreign workers accounted for 37% of the labor force. The country’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in Asia, scoring 2.1% as of June 2013.
Singapore has already taken steps to complicate the procedure of importing overseas workers, including increasing levies on overseas hires and decreasing the permitted ratio of foreign to local employees at companies in various vital sectors.
In my opinion, giving your citizens fair opportunities to access the local labor market is understandable, but attempting to prevent foreign workforce from working in a country which has been traditionally a model of open economy is not easily comprehended.
With Singapore welcoming foreign labour for years, the state managed to experience many years of financial prosperity by exploiting the best of foreign talent and providing itself with a competitive advantage over its neighbours. Revising the labor policy may negatively influence Singapore’s economy and reputation as an open economy hub which promotes diversity and invests in the intelligence of different multi-skilled people.
The new measures will definitely impact on the millions of European unemployed people who suffer from the long-term effects of the financial crisis and who alternatively seek for employment in Asian countries which enjoy more stable economic conditions. If this new policy is set in stone, it could result in many EU workers facing difficult challenges to securing work in Singapore.
What do you think about the new labour policy in Singapore?