I thought I’d share something after I read an article about this polytechnic student facing a bleak situation at work owing to his two Filipino colleagues’ work ethics.
At present, I am a second-year undergraduate doing an internship which I find both enriching and fulfilling but have nevertheless found the labour importation and employer attitudes towards them to be alarming.
My company is mid-sized and in the corporate advisory field; Interns whose stint extend a certain period have a director-mentor with whom they discuss their progress and turn to for any work problems.
I was fortunate to have a good mentor with whom has shared with me the nature of corporate advisory work beyond what was covered in school.
I feel this is what the essence of an internship should be given that my degree is multidisciplinary and it helps me to decide on the direction of my future career.
Over lunch some time back, my mentor and I were discussing the cuts to the dependency ratio ceiling which he found to be “disturbing”, much to my surprise since he has two children studying locally who are both a few years younger than I am.
The reasons cited was that what the firm did what was considered specialised and that fresh hires and mid-level hires who were foreigners were more willing to learn and did not carry the “know it all” attitude which was what he preferred.
More importantly, cash flows and erratic workloads could be an issue at times and these foreigners have less demands on pay and were willing to work harder when the need comes.
This had me thinking that we Singaporeans are essentially living in a vicious cycle.
Ceteris paribus, employers would already prefer an importation of labour regardless of wage because of a perceived “better” attitude and other intangibles.
When concerns over wage and the ability to bill hours come in, then employers would make a clear cut choice to the obvious determinants of Singaporeans – Singaporeans face a higher cost of living and depressed wages because of a combination of these foreigners and poor policy planning.
Property prices have seen an exponential jump since 2005 owing to an import of about 200,000 workers per year while only building an average of approximately 10,000 units of housing a year; it simply becomes intuitive as to where the direction of prices would head.
As an insult to Singaporeans, one particular revered opposition member of parliament did question a particular Senior Minister of State as to this phenomenon but the response given was essentially that there was a surplus stock. Despite this miscalculations, that Senior Minister of State was eventually promoted to full minister.
One of the oft cited reasons for importing foreigners is that they need to fill the shortage of labour and that these foreign workers lower costs for businesses thereby resulting in their ability to survive and thus provide jobs for local workers.
This is clearly ironic given that their presence is at the expense of reducing Singaporeans ability to afford and increase in their standard of living.
Many younger generation persons like myself are putting off having children because of affordability issues.
The bigger issue is that this then repeats itself as a vicious cycle since there are no locals to fill jobs.
Having shared my side of the story, I’m just curious as to what would you take be on the overall phenomenon?
Thanks for your mail.
The foreign influx has truly created alot of havoc for the working population here benefitting only the employers and foreign workers.
With all sorts of quota and work permits, foreigners can easily come in to work for two years.
They will then try to apply for permanent residency in the hope of staying on long term here.
Given the dismal state of economic affairs in most third world countries around us, Singapore represents a heavenly place to reside and live for the long term.
Foreigners are also more willing to work harder and put up with much work exploitation so that they can curve out a future for themselves in a first world environment.
For every job at PMET level that is offered to a foreigner, it is one job less for local Singaporeans.
I would encourage our government to adopt a Employ Singaporeans First mentality so that we can have our basic needs met.
Right now, local PMETs have to compete with foreigners out in the job market and sometimes the low wages they are willing to accept have deprive many locals from gaining employment.
I am not against foreign workers but the policy has to be tweaked to accommodate employment opportunities for local Singaporeans first.
I hope to publish your mail on my blog if possible.
Thanks also for writing in to us.
We are here for you.