Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower & Senior Minister of State, National Development, to Parliamentary Question on Dependency Ratio Ceilings for New Growth Industries
Ms Mary Liew: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower (a) whether concessions on the dependency ratio ceilings are offered to foreign investments and companies in new growth industries that are setting up in Singapore; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider introducing policies on knowledge transfer that compel training and transfer of expertise to Singaporeans whilst reducing our reliance on foreign talents.
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:
- Our aim is to create good jobs for Singaporeans. To achieve this, we have been proactively attracting good investments and giving Singaporeans a leg-up through capability and development training. In the process, we may provide some short-term flexibility on our foreign worker rules – either to cope with temporary skills and capability gaps in the initial start-up period until trained local manpower is ready, or to deal with temporary surges in manpower demand. But this flexibility is only granted on an exceptional basis, for projects that generate high productivity levels in terms of value add per worker.
- In terms of skills and knowledge transfer to Singaporeans, there are many schemes that have yielded positive results. One example is the Singapore-Industry Scholarship (SgIS), which aims to prepare Singaporeans to take on leadership positions across various sectors. In 2012, 90 Singaporeans have been awarded undergraduate scholarships from 28 enterprises.
- Specifically for the Biomedical Sciences and Process industries, the Development and Apprenticeship Programme (DNA) also seeks to encourage companies to localise their talent pool by providing industry endorsed training and career development pathways for new local hires. Since the programme was launched in 2012, it has attracted 24 companies committing to hire and train 335 locals.
- MOM has taken deliberate and progressive steps on reducing reliance on foreign talents, by tightening the qualifying criteria for both Employment Pass and S Pass applications. Our Employment Pass numbers fell in 2012, the first time since 2003. One important area which we are looking to address is to ensure that Singaporeans are being fairly considered for job and development opportunities, which will encourage companies to groom Singaporeans for more senior roles. I will provide an update on our plans on this issue later this year, once they are finalised.