Skip to main content

Oral Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Foreign Worker Growth and Projections

Notice Paper No. 203 Of 2015 For The Sitting On 14 Jul 2015 Question No. 704 For Oral Answer

MP: Mr Gan Thiam Poh

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) in the past eight years, what has been the percentage and absolute number of growth of (i) foreign workers in total (ii) foreign workers in each industry/sector/segment; (b) what is the projected number of (i) foreign domestic helpers (ii) care givers (iii) healthcare workers for the next 15 years in view of the increase in the ageing population with 900,000 Singaporeans above the age of 65 years; and (c) whether the Government intends to reduce or cap the growth of foreign workers.


  1. The overall annual foreign workforce (FW) growth has moderated from 144,500 in 2007 eight years ago, to 34,000 in 2014. In other words, the growth rate has slowed from 19% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 3% y-o-y over the eight years.   
  2. This significant slowdown in FW growth occurred in all sectors over the past eight years – from 54,500 (28% y-o-y) to 21,500 (5% y-o-y) in the Services sector1. For the Construction sector, it slowed down from 36,000 (23% y-o-y) to 9,700 (3% y-o-y) in the Construction sector. Likewise, for the Manufacturing sector, the slowdown was from 42,000 (18% y-o-y) to a negative growth of 5,400 (-2% y-o-y). 
  3. The Ministry of Health had projected the number of healthcare professionals needed would increase from 46,000 in 2011 to 78,000 in 20302 to cater to an ageing population with higher healthcare needs. The number of support care staff such as healthcare assistants and nursing aides would also need to increase by about 9,000 over the same period, from 2011 to 2030. In addition, to assist with care-giving duties at home and supporting families with elderly and children, the National Population and Talent Division expects demand for foreign domestic workers to increase to about 300,000 by 2030.  
  4. Our aim is to moderate the inflow of foreign manpower, at a pace that we can accommodate. Currently, the foreign share of our workforce is about one-third. We intend to maintain this. This means that the pace of foreign workforce should grow broadly in tandem with the growth of our local workforce as we move forward.

1Figure excludes Foreign Domestic Workers. 
2This comprises doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and selected allied health professionals (AHPs).