Singapore Employment Trends: Minister Highlights Surge In Foreign Employment For Undesirable Jobs

Singapore Employment Trends: Minister Highlights Surge In Foreign Employment For Undesirable Jobs

Last year, employment in Singapore grew by 88,400, with 83,500 jobs going to non-residents (foreigners), according to a Channel News Asia report. Tan was responding to a question by a lawmaker on how the Ministry of Manpower will ensure that the bulk of new jobs created this year will go to Singapore citizens and residents.

PTIUpdated: Wednesday, April 03, 2024, 02:43 PM IST
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The bulk of the spike in foreign employment last year was in jobs that Singaporeans did not want to do, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told Parliament on Tuesday.

Last year, employment in Singapore grew by 88,400, with 83,500 jobs going to non-residents (foreigners), according to a Channel News Asia report. Tan was responding to a question by a lawmaker on how the Ministry of Manpower will ensure that the bulk of new jobs created this year will go to Singapore citizens and residents.

Of the 83,500 new jobs that went to non-residents in 2023, the bulk was due to increased work permits and other work pass holders in sectors such as construction. That was 64,800 or more than 77 per cent of the employment growth.

"These are not typically the type of jobs that Singaporeans want to do," the minister said. The rest of the increase in non-resident employment -- around 18,700 -- was for Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders, which are for higher-skilled workers. Work permits and other work passes are issued to foreigners working in Singapore.

"The growth last year in EP and S Pass holders exceeded growth in resident employment as non-resident PMET (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) employment is still recovering from the pandemic," he said.

Resident employment has increased every year since 2019 as the government worked to protect jobs during the pandemic, but the number of EP and S Pass holders at the end of last year had not recovered to the level seen before Covid-19 hit. "The larger proportion of growth attributed to EP and S Pass holders last year did not affect PMET resident employment at all," said Tan.

He noted that there is a global shortage of skilled talent and that cities around the world are competing for investments and human capital. "To stay competitive and to nurture a vibrant corporate ecosystem, we need to ensure that our businesses can access talent and they can expand," he said. Regarding jobs for residents, the Manpower Ministry said Singapore is close to full employment.

The resident employment rate was 66.2 per cent in 2023, the highest rate among advanced economies. The resident unemployment and long-term unemployment rate were also low, at 2.7 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.

The minister said between 2013 and 2023, the number of resident PMETs grew far more than the number of EP and S Pass holders. Specifically, in growth sectors such as finance, infocomm and professional services, resident PMETs increased by 190,000, while the number of EP and S Pass holders grew by 20,000. Tan pointed out that his ministry regularly updates the qualifying salaries for EPs and S Passes to ensure that the holders are of high quality and maintain a level playing field for locals.

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