Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Tuesday January 23rd 2018

Jobless software engineer: “Even our professional executives will fall through the crack due to our lax foreign talent policy.”


Hi Gilbert, 

How are you doing? 

I have been thinking alot lately whether  I should share my jobless experience with you.  

Anyway, I think if my sharing can be of help to those who are unemployed, I should. 

Previously, I have joined your group for  a talk sessions in early 2010 after I left my job to join a start-up. 

Of course,  the deals we were pursuing did not materialized and after that the whole business fall apart.  

I started to rejoin the corporate world again and after 6 months of job hunting, I landed a job with a MNC.

Just a little on my background, I am a software person working with a premium software house and have been successful in my career. 

I have been  working in Hong Kong since 2004 and later the company assigned me to the USA office.  

The condition for me to work in US is really strict and my company has to raise my salary to match the locals in order for me to relocate. 

I must say that I enjoyed the well-balanced lifestyle  in US.     

However in 2009, I have to return to Singapore as my son needs to report for  NS.    So  I have to give up a high paying job and returned to Singapore reluctantly. 

The return  journey in Singapore has been tough on me. 

I was  retrenched in March 2012 and later managed to find a contract job in July 2012. 

This month I was told that I have been released from the company. I am sure I will survive as long as I don’t give up.  

What I have learnt so far have been interesting and I hope to share with your readers.

Both projects  I was involved in were multi-million dollar projects in the private sector.   

The team size comprised about 15 to 18 consultants.  

I am the only Singaporean in the project, somehow the skillsets required for the project implementation were not readily found within our local professional community. 

Either there is something wrong with our educational system or the company preferred to hire foreigners for reasons best known to themselves.

I saw that many interviews with our local candidates bore  the same result –the local candidates just don’t seem to make the cut for the job.      

I can’t help  but wonder what happen to our  local pool of talent or are there  any other reasons why our local executives don’t seem to be able to get the job whereas foreigners could?

Something is wrong here.

I hope I am wrong  but if my analysis is correct, the locals will not stand a chance as the huge influx of EP holders clearly outpaces  our  local talent.   

The point I am trying to hit out at is - if you don’t provide the opportunities for one to learn the art of the trade then the local pool of talent will never be developed.    

If we can start to make EP a little harder to obtain, then I am sure the organization will have no choice but  to hire   our local PMETs.

Back in 2009, after returning from Hong Kong, I happened to read an article on foreign talent analysis.
I like to share some salient points with your readers:-

“Several weeks ago, a prominent friend whom I shall not named here said something that stick to my mind ever since. “As Singapore grows to 6.5m people mostly via importing, the positive side effect is Singapore can control the IQ of its overall population.”

Population IQ is a statistic game. The IQ mean is 100. You cannot improve the mean by producing more babies. You can improve it by attracting the best and brightest professionals to your city.

In bigger country like Indonesia, Malaysia or China, their metropolitan cities has the advantage of not just drawing the talent pool from its city but all over the country. For example, most people working in Beijing weren’t born in Beijing.

Unfortunately, Singapore does not have other cities to draw its talent pool from. To remain competitive with the top cities, Singapore must be able to attract talents from the region/world with an open immigration policy. This is why the “Foreign Talent” policy is sacred cow, no debates within the government. Singapore survival in the long term depends on not just grooming its own talent but also attracting talents from other countries.

Yet, I couldn’t get the statement made by my friend out of my mind. Or rather, the implications of it.

What happened when you put 4m people with a mean IQ of 100 together with a carefully selected 2m people with a mean IQ of 130?

While the overall mean IQ of the population will no doubt improve, the original 4m people, ie Singaporeans born in Singapore would generally fall behind.

Most Singaporean would find themselves working for or under Foreign Talents. Only a small percentage of the best Singaporeans would be competitive. Even the once “middle class” may find themselves not so middle-class anymore.

With the progression of this immigration, it is inevitable that Singaporeans will see their colleagues layoff replaced by FT, a promotion they thought they going to have taken over by a imported FT, or their top-in-class child is no longer the top student because of smarter ASEAN scholars.

It is human nature to demonize a group for their incapacity. When the above happens, most people aren’t going to say “I just need to work harder!” but rather to blame foreigners taking their jobs, their woman and overtaking their kids. The knee-jerking reaction is to questioning and then opposing the Foreign Talent policy, and if that don’t work (it won’t under a sensible government), starting to resent these foreigners.

In my last 20+ years in Singapore, I never felt as unwelcome here than these two years.

I am also pretty sure the government is aware of the resentments against the foreigners. But it has consistently reminded Singaporeans that Singapore is not a welfare state and they have to work harder.

Singapore needs Foreign Talents. There is no doubt about it. It is part of the long term progress for Singapore.

But with Foreign Talents policy, the government must do more for Singaporeans as they will fall behind. As much as I agree to cultivating a good work attitude and habit, that no one owes you a living except yourself, no-welfare state policy should be reconsidered. Otherwise, it will breeds more anti-FT sentiments in the long run”


I must agree with the above author that since coming back to Singapore, I never felt so unwelcomed here.

Furthermore, I find myself working under foreign talents.   I hate to admit it but my foreign bosses are really not that talented at all.        

Sad to say, if this situation continues to persist, I am afraid that even our professional executives will fall through the cracks.



Number of View: 5080

Reader Feedback

19 Responses to “Jobless software engineer: “Even our professional executives will fall through the crack due to our lax foreign talent policy.””

  1. Ace says:

    It is very easy to ensure that Singaporeans do not get the good paying job that is available simply by designing and making a job description for the post that Singaporeans will not qualify. It is like the NParks requirements for foldable bikes which is clearly based on the specs of Brompton and no other brands will qualify.

    This is the trick used by the employment agencies. There are many advantages to employing foreigners on EP. Some of these are that the employers do not need to pay CPF, no reservist disruption of staff, and extra income for the employment agencies. To solve this problem, the MOM must require employers to show proof that they have not been able to recruit locals for 6 months or more.

    Non-esential businesses that are unable to afford the services of local and depend entirely on foreigners have no reason to base their businesses here. They need to do a cost/benefit analysis and allocate a value to the other factors which Singapore provides to decide whether it is better to be locate here or not. It does not benefit Singaporeans if a business does not employ locals but adds to the problem of overcrowding, social issues etc. The value add created by some of such EP holders may be less than the total cost of having them here and is not justified from the point of view of the country.

    We cannot measure such workers just by the economic value but by the total value to society in Singapore.

    • David says:

      It is easy to justified to MOM & manipulate to recruit FT because they cannot find locals.

      If I am an Employer/Hiring Manager/HR, I will advertise that my salary range for this position is $2500 – $3000.

      Experience local graduate will not accept $3000 & Local fresh graduate will request for $3000 due to high rising cost.

      However experiences FT also request for $3000 after negotiation for their personal interest to step foot in Singapore.

      After comparing with experience local graduate, local fresh graduate & FT, FT is the only one who is within my range of offer salary & value for money because of their experiences.

      As for to wait 6 months or more before we can employed FT over local, I will question Govt which business can wait for 6 months?

      So Govt have to s*u*c*k thumb & give way or else less tax to collect & more unemployment in Singapore because my business will shift out to another countries.

      So please get real & wake up your ideas!

  2. J Y says:

    I agree with what the article wrote. To cultivate a good working habit and attitude, I think the bosses should also set a good example.

    Many bosses have a “tyrant” attitude like they are the kings. They don’t allow subordinates to eat in the office, but they also did it themselves. The bosses tend to delay the work they owed you forever, but expect you to hand in work to them on time.

  3. jj@39 says:

    If we have read the newspapers during these few days, we will read about ASME members complaining of manpower crunch as S’poreans are choosy with jobs; companies planning to relocate their biz to other countries; companies forced to halt biz expansion plans, companies plan to wind up their biz here.

    Topics such as foreigners needed as to tackle low fertility rate in Singapore, S’pore need 20000 new citizens yearly, PR dropped to record low unmbers of 30000 also make into the headlines too.

    PM LHL also said S’pore needs to built a 6 millions population. How is the housing price, property price & shop rental going to go down?

    These are signs. PAP will continue to let huge amount of foreigners into S’pore. PAP won’t give up their already planned GDP growth plans so easily just bcoz they lost one aljunied grc to WP. It’s just only one grc. PAP have already took back potong pasir smc too.

  4. Jwonder says:

    Just wondering …

    If there was no NS for his son to come back to (or he has daughters instead), was Simon able to stay put in US, with his high paying job, well-balanced lifestyle, and all?

    If he was still in US, will he be retrenched in March 2012, and again 3 months later?

    If just by bringing in 2M “carefully selected” people, will bring about progress for Singapore, then why bother with the 4M local born? Shouldn’t just replace the whole lot for betterest progress and prosperity for THE Nation? Why bother uprooting Simon and his son all the way from the US? Was Simon’s son even tested for his IQ level before recalling him?

    If the bulk of the 4M lower IQ people didn’t provide the security and deterrent, will the 2M high IQ people still want to come? (or maybe their collective high IQ can morphed into a 3.75G Self Attenuated Force when the need arises?)

    If “no one owes you a living” then why “someone” owns Simon, his son, and their family’s way of life such that, they can’t just go about making a living but to return “reluctantly”? Does Simon prefer living on the edge, taking risk of joblessness, so that his son can strike it like a McDonald crew for 2 years?

    “Most people working in Beijing weren’t born in Beijing” – neither are most people working in KKH born in KKH, but at least the PLAs are volunteers!

  5. jj@39 says:

    I once met a S’porean uncle at a e2i healthcare jobfair. He was living in Canada for years but came back when his son was called up for national service.

    He was quite shocked at the way how S’pore had changed. He complained of too many foreigners in S’pore; so many dip/deg & PME jobless; wage depression. He used to be working as a marketing mgr or director (i can’t remember the actual job title) before he left for Canada.

    After returning to S’pore, he also face difficulties in finding a job matching to his skill & experience. In the end, i think he went to sign a bond with the Tsao Foundation to learn about eldercare. I believe he will be returning to Canada after his son has completed his NSF. He felt that it’s very stressful to live in S’pore nowadays. S’pore is no longer the S’pore that he used to know in the past.

  6. David says:

    Singaporean is always at the losing end & when Singapore sink, the MPs/Ministers/etc will be rich enough to bring their whole family to overseas as their new citizens but the poor Singaporean will sink together with Sinkapore!

    F the Govt!

  7. sporean says:

    If are are importing so much labour from india and philipines whose national IQ are much lower than Spore, are we sure we are increasing our national average IQ?!?

    The part on education i agree. with an authoritative comformist system, what kinda graduates do u think we can produce??

  8. sporean says:

    The other view is, Spore is so small, that u just need a small % of top people from top cities from the world, to virtually replace everyone.

    Now ask, what is the priority of the govt then? To sporeans or to the employers and the rich??

    Use the same view on foreign money.
    We just need a small % of hot foreign money from China and US, to flood Spore and create enormous long-term inflation for everyone in sg.

    Ask again, now, does this benefit the rich developers and multi-property owners or most sporeans?!?

  9. sporean says:

    I have to make another point on this so-called foreign talent, particularly those from india.

    In my past experience, most of these foreign ‘talent’ from india, are way over-rated. There are master grads who cant even complete simple task without assistance when others completed several tasks.

    And there are those who would claim credits from others work, or talk down on others contribution.

    Also, when the interviewing candidate is foreigner, or when most of team members are from one country, who is there to ensure the local are not discriminated against?!?

  10. Reto says:

    Whiners lol

  11. Sal says:

    The Indian mgr will recruit Indian workers….the PRC will recruit the PRC the theres only one loser. They will support their own people as to save their jobs….this is the real world out there.

  12. Maxie says:

    Very disappointed to born and also serve the nation for 2yrs in NS. Now, at the age of 50, the country have rejected me by taking away my job and giving to the FT who did not contribute any service to the nation.
    When I went for any interview, the interviewer who is an FT will then make remark on me, by saying Singaporean is stupid and always wanted high paid job. They also comment that I am old. Why is there still age discrimination, when our government is calling for a STOP ?
    How can they said that Singaporean is requesting for a high paid job for just S$4000pm,when a FT is requesting for S$8000pm for the same job ?

  13. sal says:

    Fxxk off the FT recruiting mgr if he/she give you this type of remarks in your own country..

  14. sg-overseas says:

    Please do not forget 13 years cycle of reservist training. Even though each time is only about a month, this is the reason why employers do not like Sg make citizens anymore as the disruption affects the companies.
    So they prefer to employ foreigners, I know Sg males do not want to protect foreigners living in Sg. The foreigners will not be around if there is a war and anyway, is treason if you refuse to go to war.
    The point is the ruling govt must be removed as they have no idea what they have done to Sg citizens.
    SINGAPORE belongs to us, we will fight for it, let the foreigners and the ruling govt fxxk off out of Sg if there is a war.
    The civil service is institutional and by law do not belong to a ruling party that loses its legitimacy.

  15. sal says:

    I doubt there will be a war in Spore, its just a theory to brainwash Sporeans ….6 months of NS is enough to learn the BMT of a soldier. As of jobs priotity , Sporeans must come first and those jobs shun by Sporeans then open to FT.

  16. Touchyourheartb4usay says:

    I do not agreed that there are no local talents. It could be companies favouring the FTs because there are cheaper. I do not think that FTs are always better than our local executives. There are local graduates who are better and think faster than their foreigner superior. It is already very obvious that it is those companies that cannot afford to employ local talents! Bosses! ask yourself can you really handle high IQ local talents or you prefer those FTs who are a bit smart but don’t think, just do what was told!

  17. sal says:

    What’s the difference between a local engineer, doctor, accountant and FTs….as long they can do the job.The policies is the different, most countries will protect their local jobs and only imported migrants for those jobs that require their skills. Vote the party that implement policies that benefits the citizens.

  18. Michael says:

    David, you made an arguement that you would move your business out of Singapore. Let me ask you this then. How many people do you employ? More than 1000? If not, I really hate to ask you to keep quiet.

    Like you I am a boss of my own company and I would love to hire Singaporeans. And yes, they tend to be more expensive. But honestly, I think Singaporeans need to look after their own kind, instead of relying on foreign people.

    The rich think that they can always be rich. You will find that after a time, that is untrue and by your arguement, your children if they are out of job one day beause of your selfishness, then really, you are the one who needs to wake up your ideas!

Leave a Reply