Home-grown Singaporeans may be living in a delusion
The huge influx of foreigners into the workforce led to a foreigner versus local argument. Since the Asian financial crisis from 1997 to 2011, I have been trying to understand the problem in a fair, rational and objective purpose. Jobless problems have led to career advice which are well-meaning but can be sarcastic.
- When locals wish to develop a fulfilling career, they are told to reduce expectations.
- When they reduce expectations, they are told they should aim higher and explore overseas prospects
- When they have experience but no direct certification, they are told to go for upgrading courses.
When they upgrade themselves through courses, they are told practical experience is more important.
- When they try to be humble, they are told they should try to promote themselves
When they appear more confident, they are told they are too arrogant.
- When they have a financial problem maintaining children, they are told they should have foreseen it.
When they financially unable to have children, they are accused of being individualistic.
I have tactfully raised the issue on comparing foreigners during various conversational occasions. Are they cheaper, faster and better? Do they behave better and more popular in the workplace? Do they really possess skill and creativity sets that local home-grown Singaporeans lack?
People do acknowledge the job problem. However, the issue of whether foreigners are better in all levels, functions and sectors is avoided. People see unemployment and underemployment as the temporary problem of a small under-achieving minority until they themselves are thoroughly affected.
When older former senior managers grumble to me about job scarcity in the pro-foreign environment, they stop grumbling when I mention some local senior managers have been very pro-foreign in hiring and promoting since 1997. Those people under 30 years old feel the problem only exists from 2006 onwards.
Whenever people criticize the ruling PAP (People’s Action Party) immigration policy, different reasons are used at various times.
1. In 1990, immigration was supposedly a supplement for low birth rates.
2. In 1997, immigration was supposedly for transforming Singapore to a higher-level economy,
3. In 2001, immigration was supposedly needed due to no suitable locals in all levels, functions & sectors.
There is a pattern of thinking towards the employment problem since 1997:
1. If things are bad at the beginning of the 1st year, they will recover by the end of the year
2. If things are bad at the end of the 1st year, they will recover by the beginning of the 2nd year
3. If things are still bad at the beginning of the 2nd year, they will get worse before getting better
The PAP is seldom blamed. Home-grown Singaporeans may be living in a delusion.