TL;DR – A global hub cannot work without diverse foreign talents.
The issue of foreigners competing for professional, manager, and executive (PME) jobs with Singaporeans has been a mounting concern amongst many Singaporeans that they are being bypassed by employers in favour of foreign applicants.
To alleviate the concerns of Singaporeans regarding what they perceive as discriminatory hiring by some employers and foreign recruitment managers who hire their own nationals, the government introduced the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) to ensure that employers consider Singaporeans fairly for all job opportunities before hiring foreigners.
More recently, to further strengthen the Singaporean core and to protect the interests of local PMEs, a task force, comprising the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), had put forward 9 recommendations including suggestions to review the employment pass (EP) application process, introducing unemployment benefits and creating more job opportunities for mature workers, among others.
In response to the proposed measures to strengthen support for PMEs, Mr Raymond Ong, a foreigner residing in Singapore, has written into Straits Times forum to share his thoughts and said that he felt that the recommendations put forth by NTUC and SNEF seem to discriminate against foreign workers, especially those who are living in Singapore long-term.
Since his move to Singapore last November along with his foreign spouse, Ng shared that he has been volunteering for a social enterprise helping to create social impact in Singapore and that he would “need to find a paying job in Singapore very soon”.
While he thinks that Finance Minister Lawrence Wong’s Parliament speech about how the thinking that reducing the number of foreigners here will allow Singaporeans to automatically fill those jobs is flawed was inspiring as it reflects the best ideals of Singapore society, Ong felt that the speech does not reflect the reality faced by unemployed foreign dependants and students who are legally residing in Singapore in the long term.
Difficult for foreigners to find employment
According to Ong, finding employment has been equally tough for foreigners as well.
The recent change that requires dependant’s pass holders to obtain employment passes if they want to work in Singapore has made employment difficult for this group of foreigners. And despite their competitive qualifications, this group of foreigners is often rejected by employers, Ong explained.
To further prove his point, Ong shared that he had made a total of 1,029 job applications since November last year. And out of the nine times he was interviewed, he was asked if he is a Singaporean or permanent resident.
He also added that saying no to this question usually disqualifies the applicant from obtaining a job as most employers do not want to go through the hassle of obtaining an employment pass for a foreign hire.
Foreigners should also be given a fair chance in jobs
While Ong understands the spirit of the Government’s attempt to ensure that all Singaporeans are given fair employment opportunities and believes that the Government and most Singaporeans are fair and reasonable, he also pleads for unemployed foreigners who are already legally residing long-term in Singapore to be also given a fair chance to obtain a paying job based on merit and qualifications.
“A global hub cannot work without diverse foreign talents”, he added.
He concluded his letter by saying that he remains hopeful, and he believes that he can contribute unique and immediate value to Singapore. He does not want to leave Singapore, neither does he wants to leave his spouse alone in Singapore.
You can read full his letter here.