New Manpower Minister stressed that firms should not hold out hope on the Government relaxing its policies on this thorny issue.
Companies in Singapore need to understand that foreign worker policies will not be accommodated to suit them.
This was the firm message echoed by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in a group interview with the media.
According to an online article on Channel NewsAsia, Lim was cited as saying the Government as “reached a point of no return.”
“If they (the companies) keep hoping that the Ministry of Manpower will revisit our policy on foreign workers to treat them special, give them higher quotas and so on, that is not possible,” Lim was quoted as saying in the article.
According to him, any more softening of the foreign worker quota will result in Singaporeans being outnumbered by foreign employees.
The article cited that the ratio of locals to foreign workers has been decreasing over the years- from 4:1 to the present 2:1.
“We cannot afford to continue to adopt a more liberal policy towards taking in foreign manpower,” Lim was quoted as saying.
“If we continue to do so, the ratio of local workers versus foreign manpower will continue to decline. As mentioned, from 4:1, 3:1 to 2:1 and in the near future, if we continue this path, it’ll be 1:1. And beyond that, one day Singaporeans will wake up to find ourselves a minority in the Singapore workforce and obviously, that’s not sustainable, that’s not desirable.”
Lim also revealed that the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) is being evaluated.
The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) unveiled last August stipulates that organisations must prove they have tried to recruit Singaporeans first, by positing job openings for 14 days at the National Jobs Bank.
If they cannot source for an appropriate Singaporean candidate, only then can they recruit a foreigner on Employment Pass.
According to the article, Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) comprise of approximately 31% of the resident workforce.
By 2030, two-thirds of Singaporeans are anticipated to secure PME positions.
“What is the purpose of FCF? Fair Consideration… but the outcome?” Lim was quoted as saying in the article.
“What’s the outcome? Strong Singaporean core. The next step, we talk about the how. How can we refine, how can we further strengthen FCF for example, to support one or all of this outcome.”
Utilising flip charts, the former NTUC Labour Chief elaborated on the outcome, which would comprise of boosting the Singaporean core, ensuring that firms become manpower-lean and enhancing the standards of the foreign workforce to make the country competitive.
Lim also explained that boosting the Singaporean core will require a host of policies, linked to schemes under SkillsFuture.
They include intensifying the Earn and Learn programme to assist polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education graduates hone their skills, the professional development of employees and technology transfers from overseas professionals to Singapore staff.
Lim said his ministry will partner with industries to source out and offer more support to early movers who are dedicated to intensifying productivity and investing in employee training.
In addition, he stressed that better utilisation of the foreign workforce is another important blueprint, with the ministry seeking methods to formalise the skills ladder for these individuals.