Saturday, 24 November 2012

Our Sg Foreign Workers

Two thirds of jobs created went to foreigners

Lim Hng Kiang has quoted some numbers on jobs created over the last 5 years and how many of these jobs went to locals and foreigners. He said, ‘In the last five years, we have been generating something like 120,000 jobs a year, of which 40,000 are Singaporeans and we end up with 80,000 foreign workers. Going forward we have decided that this is no longer tenable over a long term.’

In summary, over the last 5 years 600,000 jobs were created and only 120,000 went to Singaporeans. Could the numbers be extrapolated backwards for a 10 year period and could the number be 1.2m jobs created with 400,000 going to locals and 800,000 going to foreigners? How long has this ratio of employment favouring foreigner been going on that Hng Kiang now realised that it is unsustainable and must be stopped?

He said that his ministry would now be more selective and stringent in the type of companies to bring in and the type of jobs that would be created.His projection is that this year 80,000 to 100,000 jobs will be created and between 40,000 to 60,000 foreign workers would be added to the workforce 

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Singapore: demand for foreign workers to increase

he demand for foreign workers is projected to increase significantly in Singapore by 2030 with the rise coming primarily from the health, household and construction sectors.

The National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) of the Prime Minister’s Office said today that demand for foreign domestic workers or maids would increase to 300,000 by 2030 from 198,000 in 2011.

It said the demand will be due to the expected rise in the number of resident households and the number of households where both spouses would be working.

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Picky Employers or Low Wage Professions: NPTD needs to look into some issues why some professions are in shortage

I refer to " Demand for foreign manpower expected to increase in 2030"

In this report, it is mentioned that "For example, with Singapore's ageing population, there will be fewer young people for each elderly person. The ageing population would require more healthcare services. The demand for healthcare workers is expected to grow from 50,000 in 2011 to 91,000 in 2030."

It is certainly not practical to forecast to 2030. In 2002, when Singapore universities had barely begun producing their own life sciences graduates, Mr Philip Yeo, chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), famously rattled those unndergraduates when he said that they would only be qualified to wash test tubes.

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Singapore’s Foreigner Influx: Facts and Myths

This week the media published a report on the latest foreign workforce statistics released by Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin. A few days earlier there was another report on the Department of Statistics’ population data as at June 2012. The gist of the two reports is that the “non-resident” population, which encompasses foreign workers and other foreigners on dependent’s, long-term visit and student passes etc., has grown over the past year.

While the long and short of it may be gleaned from the reports, discerning readers will know better than to take the provided data at face value. To help us all see a clearer picture of the facts and myths about Singapore’s foreigner population and influx, I have compiled information on relevant government policies and statistics since 2010 in chronological order in my previous post.


My Table is here. Take note, in particular, of the parts highlighted in bold.

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Rebuttal to MTI’s reply on foreign manpower

With reference to the article “Singapore’s Foreigner Influx: Facts and Myths” (TR Emeritus, Nov 3) and the TR Editorial “MTI: We are careful in bringing in foreign manpower” (Oct 7), I would like to make some remarks to MTI's reply.
“Our experience and empirical data from developed countries show that economic growth is positively related to wage growth. The benefits of economic growth have filtered down to all groups, including lower-income households. From 2006 to last year, the 20th percentile saw real household income growth of 2.2 per cent per annum”

Real household income vs worker's wages - Real household income for lower-income households may have grown in recent years because of a higher number of people working in each household, as more people may need to work in the household in order to survive – Why?

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Singapore's PM Lee: We need more foreign workers to help keep inflation low 

Singapore, fresh from announcing record economic growth, said it must bring in more workers from abroad to help keep inflation low, apparently backsliding on a commitment to stem an influx of foreigners.

The government plans to allow more than 100,000 foreign workers into the city-state this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Singapore media during a trip this week to the U.S.

"If we don't allow the foreign workers in, you are going to have overheating" of the economy,  Lee said in a Straits Times article posted Thursday on the prime minister's website. "We have to accept that." Full Story

Singapore needs 100,000 workers as economy sizzles - AFP
Singapore needs 100,000 foreign workers this year - Hindustan Times
Singapore Needs 100,000 Foreign Workers, PM Says - RTTNews
Singapore needs more foreign workers - Arab News
Singapore needs 100,000 workers as economy sizzles - Free Malaysia Today
Singapore needs 100,000 workers as economy sizzles -
Singapore PM: We Need More Foreign Workers - The Irrawaddy

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Tharman defends regulation of foreign worker numbers

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday defended the Government's regulation of foreign worker numbers as adaptive and "practical", responding to recent charges by some business leaders that the tightened policies have created uncertainty for companies here.

The Government's approach has been to make clear its target of having foreign workers comprise one-third of the total workforce "on a continuing basis in this decade", ensuring their numbers do not grow indefinitely, he said. But this is an "inexact business" and exact foreign worker numbers cannot be fixed.

"What we do in the case of foreign worker policy is we set foreign worker levies and the dependency ratio ceilings (DRCs), and let companies decide on how many workers they need based on their ability to grow. Pay the foreign levy and you can get the workers, up to the level permitted by the DRC. And the DRC means that if you can attract more Singaporeans, you can hire more foreign workers. This is a practical approach that avoids major disruption, even as we tighten policies," said Mr Tharman at SPRING Singapore's Business Excellence Awards ceremony at the Shangri-La Hotel. 

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Demand for foreign manpower expected to increase in 2030

The demand for foreign manpower is projected to increase for the healthcare, construction and foreign domestic labour sectors in 2030, according to the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD).

The NPTD, a department in the Prime Minister's Office, made the projections in an Occasional Paper released on Monday.

It said the projections are not targets but illustrate the growth and change in demand for workers in these sectors based on certain assumptions drawn from the country's demographic and demand trends. 

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Foreign workforce up but ...

Foreign manpower numbers, excluding foreign domestic workers, grew by 34,100 in the first six months of this year, despite the pace of growth slowing due to tightened inflow of foreign labour.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin yesterday released data on work permits, employment passes and S Passes for the first half of this year, and said more measures may be put in place if necessary to encourage companies to pursue higher-productivity business models and processes instead of labour-intensive growth.

Beyond the numbers, Mr Tan said calibrating Singapore's foreign manpower framework is also about "finding that delicate balance that will deliver sustainable wage growth for Singaporeans, growth prospects for businesses and a societal composition that we can accept". 

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Foreign manpower "helps local firms maintain competitiveness"

A common complaint from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is the difficulty of finding enough Singaporeans to work in customer service positions. Ionized water specialist firm H2O Life Source is an SME

Its group managing director and ASME executive council member, Kenneth Wong, said: "With some improvements in automation, productivity, even salaries, we think we can attract a bit more Singaporeans but I don't think we can do away with foreign talent among us." \

Foreign workers can also help local business maintain their competitiveness. Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said: "Our SMEs, particularly those who cater to the export markets, their cost is lower and they can be more competitive.

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S'poreans must have honest conversation about immigration: S Iswaran

Second Trade and Industry Minister S Iswaran said Singaporeans must have an honest discussion about the country's immigration policy, no matter how unpalatable it may be.

Mr Iswaran was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a dialogue session a day after his ministry released a report on population and the economy.

It was a vigorous night-time session for the participants where they discussed the pros and cons, shared their views, and gave suggestions. 

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American chief of SICC issues veiled threats in response to tightening of foreign labour

The PAP Govt has been gradually introducing policies to tighten foreign labour in Singapore.

These include raising foreign worker levies, introducing stricter criteria for S Passes and Employment Passes, lowering the dependency ratio ceilings to hire foreign workers and more recently, raising the bar for foreigners applying for Personalised Employment Passes (PEP).

The PEP, which among other things, allows foreign professionals to stay in Singapore continuously for six months while being unemployed, will soon require them to have a minimum annual fixed salary of $144,000 – up from the existing $34,000 a year.

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MWC chairman: Foreign spouses may help reduce foreign labour dependence

The chairman of the Migrant Workers’ Centre (MWC), Mr Yeo Guat Kwang has suggested Singaporeans’ foreign spouses could help reduce the country’s dependence on foreign labour.
Making the suggestion at the Deepavali celebration for foreign workers held today, Mr Yeo said:
At the moment, all our employers are looking to other countries with the help of intermediaries to bring in foreign workers. But in fact, in Singapore, many locals have foreign spouses.
We will also request for MOM to provide the similar level of training support for the foreign spouses to help them because they give us Singaporean children, and they are with Singaporeans.
Mr Yeo said the Manpower Ministry has already implemented schemes to make it easier for foreign spouses to work in Singapore, wich includes when they apply for work permits, they are not subjected to quotas, restrictions from country source, and they do not pay any levies.

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MOM takes 8 companies to task for employment law violations

Eight companies have been charged for different violations under the Employment Act (EA) and the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act (EFMA).

Construction company Techcom Construction & Trading Pte Ltd and its main contractor Sunway Concrete Products (S) Pte Ltd were charged with defaulting salary payments to its workers.

Techcom faces a total of 59 charges under the EA for failing to pay its workers' salaries on time (within 7 days after the last day of the salary period).

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PM says foreign workers help enlarge economic pie for Singapore

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Thursday urged Singaporeans to look at the contributions of foreign workers objectively, saying they are not here to steal Singaporeans' jobs, but to help enlarge the economic pie for the country.

Speaking in Mandarin at the May Day Rally, Lee said foreign workers helped strengthen Singapore's overall competitiveness.

The PM said foreign workers are hardworking and willing to work long hours. With the help of foreign workers, airport, seaport, factories, offices, hotels, restaurants and retail outlets can offer better service and business hours: 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, they can run their operations, service their customers, and so strengthen Singapore's overall competitiveness. 

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Premium Employment Pass: Salary was only $34,000 a year?

I refer to the article “MOM tightens criteria for premium employment passes” (Channel NewsAsia, Nov 7).

It states that “Starting next month, foreign professionals applying for a personalised employment pass (PEP) – which among other things, allows them to stay here continuously for six months while being unemployed – will have to meet more stringent criteria that includes a minimum annual fixed salary of S$144,000, up four-fold from the existing S$34,000 a year.

The validity of PEPs – which are non-renewable – will also be reduced from five years to three years. The new criteria was put up recently on the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) website. The MOM said that the changes ensure that the PEP “remains a premium pass for top-tier foreign talent working in Singapore and is in line with recent moves to raise the quality of Employment Pass holders”.

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Pragmatic solutions needed to address foreign worker issue

I refer to the report "Govt may further tighten inflow of foreign workers" (Oct 26) and the letter "There's a cost to having limits on foreigner workers" (Oct 18).

The labour-intensive construction industry employs a substantial number of low-skilled foreign workers because many Singaporeans shun those jobs. Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin has said that despite the clamour from employers lamenting the manpower shortage, there will be no U-turn on the tightening of foreign worker inflows into Singapore. He further stressed that Singapore cannot continue to rely on low-cost foreign labour to grow the economy.

Nevertheless, our policymakers must work out pragmatic solutions to solve the valid and considerable concerns of the construction industry. It is good to know that Mr Tan said his ministry will continue to listen to feedback from businesses and exercise flexibility where possible

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Singapore mulls limits on foreign workers
Singapore should tighten policies on foreign workers in the city-state to ensure their number does not grow significantly from current levels, a committee led by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam recommended on Monday.
"We cannot increase the number of foreign workers as liberally as we did over the last decade, or else we will run up against real physical and social limits," the government's economic strategies committee said in a report. Full Story

Singapore should curb foreign workers' influx -
Singapore seeks to cap foreigners at third of workforce - The Malaysian Insider
Singapore must limit foreign workers, panel says -
Singapore told to restrict foreign workers - Hindustan Times
Singapore may cap low-skilled foreign workers - TVNZ

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Stricter laws against errant foreign worker employers

Stricter rules for employers of foreign workers will take effect from tomorrow onwards.

There will be a new administrative penalty regime which allows for swifter punishment for those who bend rules. Offenders can be fined up to $20,000 per infringement.

They will also have to comply with any other directions set out by the Commissioners for Foreign Manpower.
New offences have been created, together with higher penalties. There will also be new presumption clauses and enhanced investigatory power 

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MNCs want more clarity on foreign worker policy

As pleas for help from small and medium enterprises (SMEs) get louder, multinational corporations (MNCs) here are also increasingly worried over recent moves by the authorities to tighten the foreign worker inflow - so much so that their representative body has publicly urged the Government to provide more clarity on its foreign manpower policies.

According to the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC), which represents over 700 global companies based here, the frequent changes in these policies have not helped their Singapore operations.

SICC Chief Executive Phillip Overmyer said: "What I really want to know, though, is not where you're going next month or next year. What's very important to a company is what the rules are going to be for the next five years." 

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Businesses seek clarification on foreign labour policy

More businesses are feeling the crunch from the recent policy changes on hiring foreign workers. Some companies say the changes have hampered their growth.

Experts say both large and small firms are seeking more clarity and believe that a more targeted approach should be the way forward.

Hunting down cockroaches, mosquitoes and rodents is a job not many Singaporeans are keen to have.

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Concerns over Govt's projected foreign manpower needs

Non-government organisations (NGO), stakeholders and observers have raised concerns over the government's projection for more foreign manpower by 2030, wondering if the demand for labour in certain sectors can be met. Some have also said it is not just about the numbers, but also whether Singapore can bring in the best quality of foreign manpower.

On Nov 12, the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) estimated that by 2030, Singapore may need about 150,000 more foreign workers in health care, construction and as maids especially as Singapore's population ages, demand for health care services,and home-based care will increase.

The NPTD said demand for these workers on low-skilled work permits could range from last year's level of 250,000 to a high of 300,000 by 2030.

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'Hire only quality foreign workers'

Employers should ensure that they hire quality foreign workers to get around the challenge of the Government's tightening of foreign labour, said Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of non-governmental organisation Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC).

"With multi-skilled and multi-qualified workers, the output will be better (and) productivity will be higher. Companies and employers will (stand to) gain," he added.

Mr Yeo, who is also a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, was speaking on the sidelines of the MWC's annual Deepavali celebration held at Farrer Park Field last evening.

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Employers 'must look for quality, not quantity'

Amid complaints from businesses about the tightened inflow of imported labour, Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) Chairman Yeo Guat Kwang has urged employers to overcome their bind by looking at foreign workers chiefly as an "augmentation" to the workforce and not a cheaper alternative to local workers.

That means employers must look for quality, rather than quantity, in foreign manpower, said Mr Yeo, who is also a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower.

To that end, a minimum skills requirement should be set for foreign workers seeking to renew their Employment Passes, he added.

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The NPTD Strikes Again

It seems that the PAP Government is now cowering behind agencies with such “professional” sounding names as the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) – a misnomer

If you ask us since there is really no Talent in this Division other than those who tailor their reports to suit the agenda of their political masters – to issue unpalatable policy pronouncements.

In an Occasional Paper released yesterday, this Division announced to much fanfare (provided by another of PAP’s lapdog – the Straits Times), its so-called projection on the foreign manpower needs of Singapore: 150,000 by 2030.
Perhaps fearing a backlash, it qualified that this is merely a projection.

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OPINION: Why is Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin relying on newspapers for statistics on IRs' jobs? - Leong Sze Hin

The Online Citizen, 21 Nov 2012
I refer to the TR Emeritus editorial “How many jobs did the 2 IRs really create for S’poreans?” (Nov 17).
This is what the Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin replied on behalf of the Govt:
“Based on reports by TODAY and Lianhe Zaobao on 10th Nov 2012, the two Integrated Resorts (IRs) directly employ more than 22,000 staff, of which about 70% are locals. MBS hires over 9,400 full time employees, of which 60% are Singaporeans. RWS employs over 13,000 staff, and around 75% are Singaporeans. Singaporeans also take up 80% of total PME positions in RWS.”
A lot of people have since been asking as to why the Minister had to rely on newspaper reports to answer a question on statistics in Parliament? This I believe is unprecedented in Singapore’s Parliamentary history. Why didn’t the Minister obtain the statistics directly?   Full story 
Admin Comment: Will Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin produce the IR job statistics that is compiled by his ministry? 

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Why Filipinos like to live and work in Singapore

Have you noticed the growing number of Filipinos working in Singapore?

This site is just one example of online guides that encourage Filipinos to come and work in Singapore. It advocates how cheap and easy it is to apply for jobs in Singapore and promotes the fact that it’s easy to get PR and citizenship. They even say that they can bring their families along if they decide to stay:

Some of the responses are shown below:
“I had no idea it was so cheap to get from the Philippines to Singapore. (And equivalent flight in the U.S. would cost about double.) It’s an excellent city to be working it because of it order and high-tech.”
“Thanks for sharing this. Good news to everyone specially our fellow kababayans who dreamed of working in Singapore.”
“I suggest you book your roundtrip flights and hotel accommodations so no questions will be asked by the immigration officer. Also tell them you will just visit and tour around. I am also planning to visit there and job hunt this year. :)
Full post can be seen here.

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I WAS surprised that 10,000 permanent residents (PRs) are among the full-time workers who earn less than $1,000 a month ("Top 1% earn annual average of $700k"; Tuesday).
I was always under the impression that the PR policy is meant to attract, at the very minimum, middle-income professionals and skilled workers to supplement the local pool of professionals.
The presence of poorly paid PRs in our midst stands in stark contrast to this.