Why firms are hiring more Singaporean professionals

Companies are increasingly favouring locals over foreigners after government's watchlist threat

Why firms are hiring more Singaporean professionals
gapore’s emphasis on fair hiring – placing firms that favour foreigners over locals during hiring on a watchlist – has led to a jump in the number of local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in the past three years.

From 2014 to 2016, the employment of local PMETs grew by 105,000 -- more than six times the growth in employment of Employment Pass (EP) holders of 17,000.

“Economic growth without local employment growth will lead to social tension and increased social divide. Likewise, local employment growth without economic growth will lead to economic stagnation and decline," he said.

Including S Pass holders, the number of foreign PMETs working here grew by 36,000 over that period.

This was a reversal from the trend observed from 2011 to 2013, when the total growth of EP and S Pass holders was higher than that of local PMETs.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say made these statements at a dinner by the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore, reported The Straits Times.

Lim cited the finance sector as a major contributor to economic growth and job creation. More than eight in 10 of its PMET positions are filled by local staff - Singaporeans and permanent residents.

Among the Singapore arms of global banks, local staff can make up as many as 90 per cent of PMET workers. For regional and global arms located in Singapore, local staff make up about 65 per cent of the PMETs employed.

The minister said that the government strives to strike a balance between being pro-business and pro-worker amid demographic trends and slowing local workforce growth.

The Fair Consideration Framework provides that firms that unfairly favour foreigners in the hiring process by subjected to closer scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the employment passes of companies which practice fair hiring are processed normally. 

Before his audience of 450 banking and finance professionals, Lim identified three areas for improvement: 
  • The quality – not just quantity – of job growth must be enhanced through technology.
  • Workers must be trained and enabled to maximise their potential. Employers should create opportunities for people to learn new skills and establish new careers.
  • The Singaporean core must grow, not just in number but in capabilities.
Finally, he said companies must nurture “glocal” talents – local workers with global experience.

They can be equipped with world-class skills as they are groomed for top management roles.

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