Majority of 60k jobs from 2015 to 2018 went to S'poreans: Chan Chun Sing

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing. (PHOTO: Screengrab from Gov.sg YouTube channel)

SINGAPORE — Singaporeans five, permanent residents (PRs) one – that’s the ratio of how new jobs were “distributed” among Singaporeans and PRs between 2015 and 2018.

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing revealed the data during an interview on Thursday (16 January) with mainstream media on the Economic Development Board’s performance for the past year. He said that of the nearly 60,000 new jobs created for the local workforce between 2015 and 2018, about 50,000 went to Singaporeans and about 9,000 went to PRs.

This trend looks set to continue. Chan added that the majority of the over 32,000 jobs that are created by new investments in 2019 will go to Singaporeans.

Currently, there are six Singaporeans to each PR in the entire workforce.

This is the first time that the minister is revealing these employment figures after a recent heated debate in Parliament. Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh had repeatedly grilled him about the breakdown of the overall number of new jobs that went to Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners in Parliament on 6 January.

In response, Chan had then questioned “the point” behind the Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament’s queries while adding that the government had “nothing to hide” and could provide the numbers, though figures were not revealed during the parliamentary session.

During Thursday’s interview, Chan said that the “slightly stronger” employment growth for PRs should be expected, given “very simple” reasons.

"Because we pre-select the PRs, it would not be surprising that in some sectors, the PR performance is just slightly better than Singaporeans," he said. He added that Singaporeans should be worried if the reverse was true.

On the other hand, the Singaporean workforce is made up of a wider age group of between 20 to more than 60 years old.

“I know how some opportunists will want to stir and say, ‘Why is the outcome for the Singaporeans worse than the PR and worse than the foreigners?’”, Chan said.

Chan also revealed that there are three resident workers, comprising Singaporeans and PRs, for every one foreign worker.

The 3:1 ratio does not take into consideration jobs that Singaporeans are unlikely to take, such as construction and domestic work. If such jobs were to be included, the ratio is 2:1.

He also pointed out that the proportion of foreigners is higher in sectors that are fastest-growing such as infocomm technology. “There is a global shortage of such people. That's why we can expect some sectors to have a higher foreign complement than others,” he said. 

Chan also reiterated a point he made in Parliament — while some foreigners are in jobs with higher positions and better pay than local employees, the latter group is taking over these jobs over time. 

He also explained about the possibility of a lower unemployment rate among foreigners compared to Singaporeans and PRs.

"The truth of the matter is if a foreigner is unemployed, why would we allow the foreigner in Singapore? So the unemployment rate for foreigners in Singapore must be zero," Chan said.

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