HR expert sees an exponential increase in foreign PMEs in S’pore and urges the government to empathize with the locals


The number of foreigners taking technical, managerial and executive (PME) jobs in Singapore has “grown exponentially,” said senior consultant at HRmatters21. Martin Gabriel.

In a live chat with TOC on Wednesday evening (July 14th), Mr Gabriel said that he had personally experienced situations in which he was the only Singaporean surrounded by a group of foreigners in different work environments.

For example, when he ran a training program in 2016, he was surprised to find out that all the participants in the program were foreign PMEs and wondered why Singaporeans were unable to fill these positions.

Beginning of this month (July 6th) Labor Minister Tan See Leng said in parliament that there will be around 177,000 people with employment cards (EPs) in Singapore in 2020. In fact, Dr. Tan from 2005 to 2020 that the number of EPs increased by about 112,000.

Although the number of EPs issued has increased, the minister also announced in his ministerial declaration that the number of local PMEs increased by more than 380,000 from 2005 to 2020.

At Infocomm, for example, the number of DPs increased by around 25,000, but the number of jobs created for local PMEs was around 35,000. In finance, there were 20,000 jobs for EPs, while job creation for local residents was 85,000.

Although Dr. Tan stated that in the past 15 years more local PMEs have secured jobs, the number of badges issued over the years has continued to rise.

In fact, the number of work cards issued to foreigners, including work permits, EP and S-Passports, is more than 1.21 million, compared to 1.13 million in the previous year.

In 2018, on the other hand, only 1.1 million work cards were issued.

It is noteworthy, however, that 311,280 new citizens and 644,559 permanent residents (PRs) were granted at the same time that Dr. Tan mentioned for the growth of 380,000 local PMEs.

If we were to just compare the number of newly granted citizenships to the number of PME jobs created, it would mean that a large number of existing Singaporean PME would lose their jobs as the authorities are likely to have high salaries as a qualification criterion for granting citizenship would set.

Regarding the type of foreigners brought into the country for jobs, Gabriel stressed that it is important for Singapore to only hire skilled workers with the right skills for the job.

“We have to make sure that the people who come here are really quality and not quantity. Where we (Singaporeans) lack certain skills, we bring in foreigners who can complement our entire economy, ”says the HR expert with more than 30 years of industry experience.

He added, “If we’re looking for an astronaut in Singapore, can you find one here? I do not think so. With that in mind, we can take someone outside. But what I see now is that the changes are so quick and jobs that I believe we can do. “

Another point that Mr Gabriel pointed out is that companies are also hiring foreigners for less professional positions such as secretaries, which clearly can be done by a local Singaporean.

For example, he said that he once had a meeting with a company that was on the watchlist of the Ministry of Manpower’s Fair Consideration Framework (FCF). The general manager and the secretary, both foreigners, attended the meeting.

“Since they are on the watch list, they asked me what to do and recommended hiring a cleaner to improve the local FCF.

“I told them that their secretary is a foreigner and I think a Singaporean can do the job … For jobs that Singaporeans can do, (it) should go to Singaporeans. (Plus) we have the local knowledge to get the job done. Recruiting foreigners for secretarial tasks is a little confusing and very surprising for me, ”explains Gabriel.

The government should empathize with Singaporeans, not businesses

The human resources expert also urged the government to be careful with the number of foreigners being brought into the country as the current situation here is overwhelming.

“If I were to talk to the government over this live chat now, I would say to slow the numbers down because we are overwhelmed,” he said.

Mr Gabriel went on to say that the government cannot just obey businesses, adding that it should be accountable and empathetic with the local Singaporeans as they are the ones who voted the policymakers.

“Of course we need trade and (its) part of the world market, since Singapore’s market is very small. But I will urge the government to be more responsible (and empathize with Singaporeans, ”he said.

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