Singapore – In response to news that recruiting locally may provide a more stable workforce yet could mean paying higher salaries, members from the online community noted this was mainly due to high costs of living.
The topic of preserving and reserving jobs in Singapore for Singaporeans has been placed under the spotlight given the worsening labour market conditions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
A channelnewsasia.com report on Tuesday (Sept 22) covered the issue by highlighting feedback from a few companies in Singapore who perceive long-term advantages to recruiting locals. However, bringing in foreigners would still be necessary to “plug gaps in manpower and skills,” the report noted.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in a speech last week that “We must not undermine what has made us successful by closing ourselves off from the world.” The Government also confirmed that work pass policies are being reviewed and efforts on addressing unfair recruitment practices are being improved. Consequently, Singapore cannot turn its back entirely on foreign talent, it added.
The companies featured in the article noted the benefits in hiring locals such as better understanding of culture, higher chances of staying committed to a job as the employee was rooted in the country, among other cost-savings. One of the companies, the SF Group, belonging to the Food and Beverage industry, admitted that to attract locals to join entails ensuring salaries are at par or slightly above market standards on top of making compromises regarding rest days.
Meanwhile, economist and associate professor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences Walter Theseira built on Mr Heng’s statement about keeping foreign talents. The economist and former nominated member of parliament noted it would be impossible to think that foreigners are only needed as a stepping stone towards “some mythical transition to an all-Singaporean economy.” Examples mentioned were construction and foreign domestic worker jobs where it would have to be fulfilled by foreigners unless the country wants to extend labour resources in these sectors.
“The question, therefore, is how to accept foreigners in the workforce while protecting Singaporean interests, especially when Singaporeans compete with foreigners for desirable medium to high skill jobs. I think there is no simple answer to this,” said Assoc Prof Theseira.
The issue of salary was mentioned among the comments made by netizens responding to the news. “Our living costs here are so high, how to survive with low salaries? Bosses simply don’t understand this point!” said Facebook user Rachael Ching.
On a different note, others mentioned that Singaporeans weren’t asking for a fully-local workforce “but for a fairer and transparent hiring practice where Singaporeans are not disadvantaged and where foreign workers cover supplemental roles.”