Singapore finance workers back tighter restrictions on foreign workers

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The Singapore government's new plan to put its citizens at the front of the line when it comes to hiring in certain job categories has received resounding approval from financial services workers, with an overwhelming majority of those polled in a new eFinancialCareers survey supporting the Fair Consideration Framework.

Click here to view survey data as an infographic

The new policy, which was announced in September by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), will make it mandatory for firms with more than 25 employees to advertise all roles paying less than SG$12,000 per month on a MOM-sponsored jobs' bank for 14 calendar days.

In addition, no company may apply for an employment pass - Singapore's version of a work permit for foreigners - until it has advertised the role on the jobs' bank. The new requirements will become mandatory from August next year.

eFinancialCareers conducted the research among 956 Singapore-based financial services professionals at the end of October. More than 75% of the respondents said they were in favour of the move, with most expecting that more nationals would be hired as a result. Furthermore, the survey participants - who were almost even split between locals and foreigners - said they did not expect any negative impact on Singapore's reputation as a global financial centre.

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More than half of the respondents said their employers had overlooked local professionals in favour of overseas professionals, and they now expected that the new requirement would go a long way to remedying this situation. 

Despite some views that what has been called creeping affirmative action could jeopardise Singapore's bid to build its reputation as a global financial hub, participants in the eFinancialCareers survey said otherwise, with only a quarter expressing concern that it would make Singapore less competitive. The balance of the respondents said it would either boost its competitiveness or have no impact.

Similarly, only about a quarter of respondents said the Fair Consideration Framework could reduce investment by foreign financial firms. Half the respondents said there would be no impact on foreign investment or wages paid to staff.

Mark Ellwood, MD of Robert Walters Southeast Asia says that the new framework has tightened conditions for many people wanting to relocate to a part of the world that has enjoyed growth and global opportunities.  But he points that the impact will largely be felt at the junior end of the market, whereas for mid to senior-level professionals, the situation is as before.

"However, organisations generally prefer to hire local or locally based talent wherever possible as there are less risks involved than relocating an individual from overseas.” 

 

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