Its still a mystery to me why our government has decided to all along restrict the influx of foreign workers by focusing on the semi-skilled S-Pass work permit system when the EP work permit category is more damaging to the employment opportunities of our average local PMETs.
As of next year, employers hiring foreign workers using the EP work permit have to pay $3000/month in salary – up from $2800 and the candidates must have at least a basic degree.
Singapore company registration specialists, Rikvin, has observed a 25.7% increase in the number of Singapore work visa applications between 2010 and 2011, in spite of higher requirements effected in July 2011.Although higher Singapore Employment Pass (EP) requirements have been in effect since 1 July 2011, Singapore company registration specialists, Rikvin, has observed that the number of Singapore EP applications between H2 (i.e. July to December) 2010 and H2 2011 has increased by 22.5%.
The jobs that go to the EP work permit holders are typically jobs that can be carried out by the average tertiary-trained Singaporean PMETS except for the niche IT programming and financial sector. Its not uncommon to see many MNCs hiring predominantly foreigners with just a trickle few consisting local staff.
On the other hand, the S-Pass work permit is heavily used primarily by manufacturing, services and construction businesses as majority of the Singaporeans does not work in these blue-collared low-paying industries.
However, we have heard of S-Pass work permits being used now even for administrative and executive-level jobs – depriving many average Singaporeans of such work.
The EP work permit needs to be relooked to ensure that only jobs that Singaporeans shun will be opened for foreigners to work in.
If not, employers will always try to use up their foreign hiring quota first before turning to hiring Singaporeans on a secondary basis due to the cost factor.
Moreover, it is the EP work permit system that poses the most challenges to our well-educated local PMET s out looking for jobs and not the S- Pass work permit system that caters largely to the semi-skilled service and manufacturing sectors.
These E_Pass job holders are ususally the executive or mid-managerial level positions – jobs that typically Singaporeans can do and thrive on.
By continuing to allow employers to hire foreigners undeterred using the EP work permit, the government is actually forcing our local PMETs to compete head on with its cheaper and younger foreign counterparts.
More worrying, employers can now staff his company with 100% foreign workers using the EP permits – which is the case for many MNCS here. This explains the reason why many local Singaporeans have complained that Marina Bay financial centre represents more of a foreign overseas location than Singapore now.
I feel that the S-Pass work permit’s original hiring quota should remain whereas a cap should be placed on the EP work permit system.
The reason is simple – jobs taken up by foreign workers using the S-Pass are often blue-collared, low paying and mostly shunned by Singaporeans whereas jobs offered by the EP work permits are what most local PMETs will be seeking out.
It is thus ironical that the S-Pass foreign labour quota is tightened whereas the EP work permit is not.
The rumour is that E-Pass holders are normally tertiary-educated and thus easily converted to be permanent resident and later on to citizenship for their votes?
Perhaps, the overall foreign labour quota system should be given a thorough over haul so that our local workers’ interest can be looked after first.
We have a need for foreign workers here as our country has a limited manpower pool but please, let us not deprive the average Singaporeans of their basic need of a decent job.
Without that, all else does not matter.
NB: This letter to the ST forum was not published.