Are non-residents taking jobs away from Singaporeans?

Last year, non-residents made up 83,500 of 88,400 total employment growth

Are non-residents taking jobs away from Singaporeans?

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower clarified on Tuesday that foreign workers aren't taking away jobs from locals after reports showed a majority of total employment growth in 2023 went to non-residents.

Last year, non-residents made up 83,500 of the 88,400 total employment growth in Singapore. But Manpower Minister Tan See Leng disputed claims that these figures meant jobs are not going to Singaporeans.

"This view is fundamentally misguided," he told Parliament.

Employment breakdown

According to the minister, Singapore is "close to total employment," with resident employment rate at 66.2% in 2023.

"Our resident unemployment rate and long-term unemployment rate remained very low at 2.7% and 0.7%, respectively," he said.

Tan added that out of the 83,500 non-resident employment growth last year, only 18,700 (22.4%) was from higher-skilled Employment Pass and S Pass holders.

The remaining increase of 64,800 or more than 77% of total non-resident employment growth was due to an increase in holders of Work Permits and other Work Passes in sectors such as construction.

"These are not the type of jobs that Singaporeans want to do," the minister said.

Keeping Singapore open to foreign labour

Tan also noted that with slowing residence workforce growth, it was important to remain open to complementary foreign labour to meet the country's labour demands.

"The fundamental objective of our approach is to strike a balance between ensuring that businesses have access to skills and manpower needed to grow and succeed, while creating opportunities for our local workers to grow and progress," he said.

The minister pointed out that this approach increased resident PMETs by 380,000 and EP and S Pass holders by 50,000 between 2013 and 2023.

It also helped resident income go up by 21.6% in real terms in the past decade.

"So, we must not view residents and foreigners as a zero-sum game and continue to draw divides," he said. "Thriving businesses with access to complementary foreign talent will not only lead to more job creation but also improve overall wage outcomes as businesses expand and improve their productivity."

Recent articles & video

Company director hit with $51,000 fine for wage-related breaches

Novartis to cut over 600 jobs amid global restructuring

MoneySmart's ex-head of tech under fire for new role at rival firm

Asia's security culture falls behind globally: report

Most Read Articles

Director given suspended sentence for wage breaches in Hong Kong

MoneySmart's ex-head of tech under fire for new role at rival firm

Singapore's data scientist role sees 'noteworthy' 11% increase in 2023