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Singapore finance workers back tighter restrictions on foreign workers


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.” 


Comments (8)

  1. Who is willing to bet there will be more employment passes handed out to people with salaries of $12,001 from August next year onwards?

    CookieCutterManagement Reply
  2. What a big surprise: labour favours less competition. Who would have guessed?

  3. Employees should be hired based on their qualifications and the content of their characters! Not because of their nationality, race, gender, religion or any factor that is in most cases not dependent of them!

    If the Singaporean government really wants to do something for its own people, it should invest more in education to develop more competitive work-force.

  4. The excuse for not investing in higher education is Singapore is that the population was too small. They don’t need too many doctors or highly skilled people. Admission numbers have been controlled. Besides that will mean less money to the government. Oh and of course, the local “smart/educated” people leave the country, wasting more money.

    CookieCutterManagement Reply
  5. it’s long due, foreign managers with lower/subpar qualifications are being internally transferred to Singapore not because they are capable in any way nor are they are from any of the prestigious ivy league. most are able to make it here because they have maintained relationships internally.

    Instead of “thinking out the box” , there’s a real need to start “thinking what’s inside the box” and remove the rotten talents.
    yes, especially those who can only talk and not perform.

    why are the poles hated? not because they are dumb, they are mostly hardworking, honest people who are willing to do the same job for much lesser return. anyone mentioned open competition?
    it’s all about the end results and time is running out, govt has only got 2 years to make it happen.

    foreignthrashdirtymycountry Reply
  6. “Employees should be hired based on their qualifications and the content of their characters” ?
    When anyone’s country is filled with 1/3 it’s own nationalities, you will understand.
    Even Dutch are complaining about Turks foreign workers that barely made up the amount of percentage of foreign workforce as Singapore.

    If it was in the United States, expect a riot, strike or demonstration by Americans every other day.

  7. I think the government will shoot itself on its foot.
    How can it create a comptetitive global market place when its job market is not competitive itself? They should give the opportunities available to the most talented and capable people regardless of nationality. It should be a free market. When companies transfer people from other regions it’s their own decision, and loss if their employees will not perform, but when the opening arises locally anybody should be able to apply without a quota or restriction attached to it. The ‘Singaporeans or PRs only’ attached to job descriptions are becoming more and more a big headache for prospect employees and employers alike!

  8. Lets face it, there is no absolute freedom, otherwise there will be absolute chaos and anarchy. A govt, ultimately has to balance internal and external opinions. If the US is the benchmark of open employment mkt, then from personal experience, it is a much more opaque, more “closed” market than Singapore or Hong Kong and many other mkts. The question has to be asked, how long do you continue to hire foreign talent and to what extent, before opening up those “growth opportunities” to locals so you start to educate and groom a local talent pool for these new positions? Continuing to hire externally can’t be the long term answer for the long term sustainability of an economy or a sector. The moment better paying roles come up, the foreign talent will leave, and what happens to the local economy. A look at how certain sectors and R&D roles in the US provides valuable lessons.

    Global citizen Reply

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