Perception of foreigners stealing jobs due to 'pockets' of errant firms: Lim Swee Say

Hannah Teoh
Senior Content Producer
Officer workers seen in Singapore’s central business district. (PHOTO: Reuters)

The persistent view of foreigners taking away the jobs of locals is due to “pockets” of employers who have not given fair consideration to the development of Singapore’s manpower, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in Parliament on Monday (6 March).

What these companies have done is “wrong” and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has taken action against them, Lim added. However, the “vast majority of employers (here) are treating our locals fairly,” Lim noted.

Speaking during the Committee of Supply debate on the MOM’s 2017 Budget, Lim was responding to requests from MPs for updates on the ministry’s Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watch list, which targets firms here that are not doing enough to hire and groom local employees.

Once placed on the list, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment (Tafep) will guide the companies to improve their employment practices over six months.

Since its implementation last year, the FCF watch list has grown to include 250 companies as of the end of February – more than double the 100 firms on the list at its start. Lim stressed that those on the list are a “small minority” of firms in Singapore.

“Some have responded positively. They stepped up local recruitment… They put in place in-house programmes to groom our local talents and they facilitate know-how transfers to our locals,” said Lim, adding that these firms had since hired 800 more local professionals, managers and executives.

“However, about 50 of them have not been receptive or cooperative. We have not seen enough improvements after six months of engagement with them,” he added.

Replying to Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat’s suggestion that Tafep be given “more teeth”, Lim said that under Tafep’s recommendations, more than 500 Employment Pass (EP) applications by the 50 employers had either been rejected by MOM or withdrawn from the employers.

These employers will continue to have their work-pass privileges curtailed until they improve, Lim said adding that he hopes the actions taken will help re-shape locals’ mindsets toward foreign employees “for the better”.