Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Thursday May 25th 2017

Email interview with undergraduate from University of Pennsylvania Law School

Dear Mr Gilbert Goh,

I am from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. I am currently doing a joint research project with several of the Ivy league Law Schools. You may wish to read more about us here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ivy_League_law_schools

I am currently doing research on the employment law in Singapore. I understand that you are a strong advocate for employment rights in favor of local citizens. You seem to paint a bleak picture of unemployment in Singapore on transitioning.org. I would like to conduct an email interview with you.

Here are some questions for you:-

Q1) What is the typical profile of unemployed people in Singapore?

Q2) Do you think that the locals are being discriminated in Singapore? Any personal experience?

Q3) Do you think that the law protects the unemployed locals in Singapore?

Q4) Should the employment laws protect the locals in Singapore?

Q5) Using me as a hypothetical case study, what are the chances of me (a foreign degree holder) being unemployed in Singapore?

Thank you.

Warm regards

TS

*****

Hi TS

My reply as written below:-

Q1) What is the typical profile of unemployed people in Singapore?

Typically, the unemployed PMETs here has at least a degree or diploma, speaks reasonably good English and in his early 30s to late 40s. Most who are jobless in their 50s probably will switch to driving cabs or semi-retired in their own way.

Many may even have consider moving abroad for a lower cost of living if they are independent and without a family here.

Q2) Do you think that the locals are being discriminated in Singapore? Any personal experience?

I wouldn’t say blatantly that Singaporeans are being discriminated during the hiring process but we have heard of local PMETs not selected by a foreign employer and this is more prevalent if the hirers are from Asian countries eg India or Philippines whereby the communal spirit is very strong. The saying goes that they tend to hire their own kind.

We have received emails from PMETs saying that they are been replaced by a incoming foreign talent due to either to lower cost or performance or both. Naturally they are pissed and wrote in to us stating their frustration.

Q3) Do you think that the law protects the unemployed locals in Singapore?

There is nothing much in place actually that protects unemployed locals. There is no quota for employers hiring EP foreigners like the S Pass kind whereby you need a X number of locals before you can hire a foreigner.

In countries like Australia, you need to show that you have advertise prominently and go through a certain number of local candidates before you are allowed to hire a foreigner. The whole process may take 3 to 4 months before you can hire a foreigner over there.

Here, the employer only needs to advertise a position for 2 weeks before he is allowed to hire a foreigner. Its too short and is not really a real deterrance for employers bend on wanting to hire a foreigner to work here. A waiting period of say 2 to 3 months is more reasonable.

There are all kinds of incentives for employers wanting to hire a foreign chief of which is the sole availability of the FT as local male PMETs need to serve their reservist liability.  Employers also don’t have to pay employer CPF and more importantly may be able to get their relatives in to share the country’s spoils.

Q4) Should the employment laws protect the locals in Singapore?

There should probably be more protection in place for both locals and foreigners in the area of unfair dismissal. I am sure that both share the misery of being unfairly dismissed by their employers and right now there is no place for proper arbitration.

There is no proper union representation, no Ombudsman and everything is skewed towards the employers. Our NTUC and TAFEP are both incompetent and lack the teeth to arbitrate firmly for aggrieved employees during a labour dispute.

Q5) Using me as a hypothetical case study, what are the chances of me (a foreign degree holder) being unemployed in Singapore?

If you belong to a Ivy League background, I am sure that you will be snatched up quickly in no time but if its just a normal foreign uni graduate my fear is that you may have to join the unemployment pool unless your degree is very specialised like medical or legal field.

The civil service also prefers local graduate from a local uni so its rather tough for alot of fresh young graduates hailing from foreign uni to enter the service.

They have to compete unfairly with the surrounding region to enter the private service whereby there is no employment protection at all. for our local graduates.

If you have the option to stay on in your place of study and gets hired, you should explore that choice seriously. Singapore is now a easy haven for foreigners seeking employment due to the 6.9m population target by 2030 and it comes at a huge disadvantage for our young graduates.

End of interview

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Reader Feedback

5 Responses to “Email interview with undergraduate from University of Pennsylvania Law School”

  1. xyz says:

    Gilbert, you’ve hit the bullseye on your comments! Hope TS takes it as wisdom & not just as info for his project. He’ll definitely get a much higher quality of life in US if he can establish a legal career there. A good lawyer in S’pore can probably earn more than a typical US lawyer, but at the expense of mental health & family wellbeing.

    Just to add on a couple of points:
    1. The 2 weeks advertisement at JobsBank is useless. Foreigners are actually using it to send CVs to prospective companies. And companies themselves are interviewing foreigners during that 2 weeks. On Day 15 or 16, the companies will then call in the foreigners to sign the employment letters.
    Moreover, most good quality jobs take longer than 2 weeks for the entire interview & selection process. So this 2-week period is basically a slap in Sinkies’ faces.

    2. Besides employers not wanting to have reservist liabilities, and paying CPF, they are also trying to avoid paying maternity & paternity leave. Hence private companies are becoming quite wary of hiring young married locals who have 0 kids or newborn (plenty of medical followups/childcare issues etc). Foreigners are here to earn as much as possible, PERIOD. For those foreigners who want children, most will already have kids before coming over to S’pore.

  2. DDrogba says:

    Our local media “shits times” keep touting the reputation of NUS. Sometimes i wonder what will happen if a local NUS lawyer go head to head with an Ivy league lawyer in the court room. It will be an interesting matchup. Who will win? Who will be crushed to smithereens? What is your guess?

  3. Ddrogba says:

    Are u sure an nus lawyer earns more? International law firms like Cravath are paying US rates for these Ivy league lawyers, a newbie one can earn usd 180k/year. Or Sgd 21k/month. Nus lawyers probably start at 1/3 of their pay.
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/law-firm-cravath-raising-starting-salaries-to-180-000-1465241318

    After 7 to 10 years, once they make partner, u are looking at millions of salary/year.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_US_law_firms_by_profits_per_partner

    Remember how our men in white justified their high salaries by pegging their salaries to these top earners. But the reality is how many of them could make it to an ivy league law school?

  4. Dean says:

    Hi TS,

    With ref to your number 4 question:
    Q4) Should the employment laws protect the locals in Singapore?

    Nowadays, the mention of the word ‘locals’ can have many meanings. It can mean: 1) locally born & bret true blue Singaporeans 2) foreigners that convert to new citizens 3) permanent residents 4) pr convert to new citizens 5) foreigners on Employment Passes & lived in Spore for many years 5) super famous & rich people who some how got Spore red passports & some have property here 6) u name it…

  5. In says:

    The 2 week wait period is nothing. Companies can literally advertise for non-existent vacancies every month and then hire a foreigner outright when a vacancy arises. It is just how you wish to game the system. The MOM side has not shown any capabilities to review job scopes etc far as I can see. How can MOM question or do they even know what or how to question dirty tricks used by very seasoned FT HR bosses?

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