Singapore has figured that the best way to sidetrack the issue of immigration and employment is by putting the spotlight on non-PMET jobs that locals turn their backs on. For extra flavour, it can be spiced up with data that there are more such jobs available than there are workers.
This is precisely what the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has done with its recent report on unfilled vacancies in Singapore. A report today (by Priscilla Cabuyao) in The Straits Times goes into it, wondering why locals are disgruntled despite the rosy data.
These are jobs that offer salaries in the range of S$1000-S$1900. As Singapore is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive places to live in, one does not have to be too insightful to see why Singaporeans are not interested in such jobs!
There are two options that the Government can consider:
- Initiate drastic measures to bring down the cost of living significantly, or
- Introduce minimum wages (instead of pointing to European countries that have minimum wages but still have high unemployment rate – they have social security that gives them doles there!)
If either of the above is implemented then the vacancies may disappear fast!
Secondly, I don’t think Singaporeans will oppose filling up those slots with foreign labour as long as they do not spike up the population too much in an already overcrowded country.
Their biggest concerns are over PMET and STEM jobs that they keep losing to foreigners.
Jobs Bank and S$12k Jobs: Any job that pays more than S$12,000/month does not even need to be advertised in the Jobs Bank that the Government created not too long ago.Businesses can straightaway fill them up with foreigners as they deem fit.
I think this cap must be done away with as it clearly undermines Singaporeans!
What the cap means is that companies need not worry about considering locals with all the required skillset and can simply go ahead and bring in people from overseas if the jobs they have involve a pay scale higher than 12k!
Shortchanging Locals: This is not a business-friendly policy, it appears to me that it is just an environment where Singaporeans (those who hold Singapore passports, not PRs) are shortchanged!
Moreover, companies advertise positions aplenty even when they have no openings for the roles they mention. They are just testing the market. Also, in some instances, the same positions keep appearing periodically even if they are filled through their own internal resources.
I am not sure how the numbers add up in the MOM report. If it just factored in advertised positions then that is not a credible approach.
To me, a serious effort needs to be initiated to go to the bottom of the issue. Shallow reports and reviews will not cut!
G Joslin Vethakumar