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Flexible Labour Policy Has Helped S'poreans

  • The Straits Times (25 December 2007) : Flexible Labour Policy Has Helped S'poreans
  • The Straits Times (15 December 2007) : Unskilled Foreigners the Bane of Older Singaporeans
  • The Straits Times (05 December 2007) : Fix Job Woes of Educated, Mature S'poreans Now
  • The Straits Times (01 December 2007) : MOM Too Liberal About Jobs for Foreigners
  • The Straits Times (01 December 2007) : Help Mature Qualified Singaporeans Find Jobs
  • The Straits Times (28 November 2007) : Are Foreigners Depriving Unskilled Locals of Jobs?
  • Lianhe Zaobao (14 December 2007) : Local, Foreign Workers Should Be On Par
  • Lianhe Zaobao (06 December 2007) : Be Responsible For Your Own Competitiveness
  • Lianhe Zaobao (01 December 2007) : Hope That Local Workers' Competitiveness Can Be Enhanced
  • TODAY (17 December 2007) : Out In The Cold


Flexible Labour Policy Has Helped S'poreans
- The Straits Times, 25 December 2007

Foreign Workers Supplement The Local Workforce 
- Lianhe Zaobao, 27 December 2007

Foreign Workers Help Plug Our Manpower Shortages 
- TODAY, 27 December 2007

We refer to the letters about foreign workers in Singapore and the competition they could pose to older local workers for jobs.

2.   As Singapore has limited manpower, foreign workers supplement our workforce when there is a shortage in numbers or skills. Businesses cannot expand and will even move elsewhere if they cannot get the workers they need here. Singaporeans in these companies would lose their jobs. Rather than taking jobs away from locals, our flexible labour policy has instead helped our economy grow and benefited Singaporeans directly.

3.   More Singaporeans including older workers and women are employed than ever before. The employment rate for those aged 25 to 64 is at a record 76.5% as of June 2007. As a result, wages have gone up. Singaporeans have also been taking up better jobs - nine out of ten jobs gained by residents from 1997 to 2007 were those of Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs). The overall unemployment rate of 1.7% in September 2007 is the lowest in almost a decade. We are effectively at full employment.

4.   Despite abundant job opportunities, Singaporeans should still enhance their employability through upgrading their skills and productivity. We would like the letter writers who have difficulty finding employment to contact the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) at 6883 5885, so that we can assist them in training and job placement.


Unskilled Foreigners the Bane of Older Singaporeans
- The Straits Times, 15 December 2007

When Singaporeans above the age of 40 or retirees seek jobs to feed their families - any job, be it as a cleaner, dishwasher, stall assistant or coffeeshop helper - they often meet with this response:

'You are too old. Are you prepared to accept $800 per month for 10 hours of work and one day off every fortnight? 'Of course, you have to multi-task - wash the dishes, clean toilets and fans, undertake delivery, etc, for the $800. 'Expect no medical or leave benefits.'

After deducting transport and food which do not come cheap, the poor retiree who used to earn $2,000 to $3,000 takes home a much-reduced income.

The employer can afford to be smug because if the older Singaporean does not want the job, he could always look to abundant younger China workers willing to do 12-hour shifts and more work, for less.

How is it that we are allowing cheap, unskilled foreign workers into Singapore so easily that they are depressing wages and making life hard for less-educated older Singaporeans?

What can we do in the face of such unfair odds, with all the cards stacked against us?

Ang Kwang Leng


Fix Job Woes of Educated, Mature S'poreans Now
- The Straits Times, 05 December 2007

I share the same concern as Mr Frankie Ng Puck Nang ('Help mature qualified Singaporeans find jobs') and Mr Poh Tip Twee ('MOM too liberal about jobs for foreigners'; ST, Dec 1) that young foreigners are taking away professional, executive and clerical jobs from mature locals.

Employers prefer foreigners because they think locals demand higher salaries. This is a myth. I believe one will not turn down a job which pays $1,800 or more, especially if one has dependent children, as many Singaporeans start a family in their late 30s.

Even if money does not matter, one would still prefer to be gainfully employed because an unemployed person feels worthless, leading to family quarrels and unhappiness.

Another myth is that older locals cannot perform as well as younger foreigners. This is untrue because, being an advanced country, Singaporeans are expected to live beyond 85 years of age. This means that a 55-year-old Singaporean can be as energetic as a 35- year-old man from another country whose life expectancy is 65 years, especially in white-collar jobs. Why, then, do we neglect this group of willing workers for whom the country has spent money on their education years ago?

Jobs should be offered to foreigners only if they are not attractive to Singaporeans or if they require talents which Singaporeans lack. They should not be given to foreigners if locals are interested in them and are able to carry them out well.

At present, only the earliest baby boomers are in their late 50s. If the job problem of educated, mature Singaporeans is not addressed urgently now, it will intensify because, year by year, a larger group of educated post-war babies will join the ranks of the unemployed.

Disincentives, such as a higher S-pass levy, should be introduced to ensure that this pool of mature workers will be tapped.

Alternatively, companies should show proof that they are not able to recruit a local before they can employ a foreigner at the same pay for professional, executive or clerical jobs.

May I also suggest that Singaporeans at senior-management levels give a thought to the plight of their older countrymen in the recruitment process. If Singaporeans do not help Singaporeans, who will? Do not simply strike them off after looking at their ages on the job application forms.

Yeo Boon Eng (Mdm)


MOM Too Liberal About Jobs for Foreigners
- The Straits Times, 01 December 2007

Many Singaporeans share the concern of Dr Lim Boon Hee in his letter, 'Are foreigners depriving unskilled locals of jobs?' (ST, Nov 28). He has highlighted a simmering issue that is troubling our society.

Foreigners are ousting locals not only in unskilled jobs but also in professional, executive and clerical positions. With employers' penchant for young and cheaper foreign workers, locals - particularly the older ones - struggle to find employment. I know of at least one private school where the majority of the office staff are foreigners. In some schools, Chinese nationals dominate the Chinese Department.

The crux of the problem is that MOM is too liberal in its treatment of foreigners. A few examples, from the MOM website, attest to this: Spouses, parents, children (including the handicapped), parents-in-law, stepchildren and unmarried daughters above 21 years of age of professionals are allowed to be brought in, and these people are allowed to take up employment. Foreign students studying here are allowed to work. Companies can bring in foreign workers for attachment and training.

Little wonder then that foreign workers have made huge inroads into our society. With the high cost of living, Singaporeans, too, need a job but to their dismay they are being supplanted by foreigners.

The Government needs to address this issue seriously.

Poh Tip Twee


Help Mature Qualified Singaporeans Find Jobs 
- The Straits Times, 01 December 2007

I refer to Dr Lim Boon Hee's letter about locals being deprived of jobs by foreign workers and the news on the Government easing up on S-passes.

Despite the Government and private employers' call to employ mature Singaporeans, employers generally do not wish to employ them for it is now easier to hire foreign workers as the Government has relaxed work-permit approval. It is also cheaper to employ foreign workers.

Hence, there is now a pool of mature citizens - qualified and with much experience - who wish to be employed and be relevant to society but who are unable to land a job.

This pool of workers has not yet been tapped and yet we are relaxing the rules for employers to employ semi-skilled foreign workers on S-passes.

I am 60 years of age. From 1971 to 2001, I worked for two multinational corporations as an administration/human resource manager.

In the last job, I was retrenched when the company relocated. Since then, I have sent hundreds of applications for job vacancies suited to my experience but to no avail.

I am not fussy but rarely do prospective employers call me for an interview. On the rare occasions when I was interviewed, because of personal recommendation, I was not successful.

The feedback was that I was too old and could not fit into the company environment. The prospective employers were being presumptuous. I was prepared to work based on employment conditions which would not cause the employer to worry about my age but there was just no opportunity to discuss this.
If the Government wishes the people to work till an older age, it must look into this category of mature people who can fill various job vacancies. They certainly can be employed and there is no necessity to issue S-passes, which take away the jobs.

I would like to suggest that the Ministry of Manpower establish a section to register this category of people and coordinate with employers who have difficulty hiring such staff.

We would also need to change the mindset of company executives who think that people above 55 years of age are old and are unable to fit into today's corporations.

Frankie Ng Puck Nang


Are Foreigners Depriving Unskilled Locals of Jobs?
- The Straits Times, 28 November 2007

I see Chinese nationals of both sexes working as hawkers in market food-centre stalls, cleaners, coffee-shop assistants, karung guni collectors, delivery personnel and store assistants.

I could not help but wonder what kind of work permit these foreign workers hold.

They seem to be taking over the whole spectrum of lower-end jobs which elderly and unskilled Singaporeans should rightfully be doing.

Have we abandoned quality foreign talents for quantity in our quest to boost Singapore's population?

Or are the women foreign spouses of local men, working and living here legally?

Dr Lim Boon Hee


Local, Foreign Workers Should Be On Par
- Lianhe Zaobao, 14 December 2007

In an opinion piece, the writer argued that local and foreign workers should be put on par so that employers would only hire foreign workers when local workers do not have the required expertise or when local workers do not want the jobs. To do so, the writer felt that the wide gap between the costs of hiring a local and foreign worker must be narrowed. He suggested:

• Salaries of local or foreign workers should be the same if they perform similar work.
• Other costs associated with using local workers, such as CPF and overtime pay, should also apply to foreign workers.
• The Government should require that the fees paid by foreign workers to work in Singapore not be shared by the worker and employer. Otherwise, a fine of ten times the amount of the fees will be imposed.
• While male local workers need to perform reservist, foreign workers should be made to perform social work.
• Foreign workers should be allowed to switch jobs but they will need to compensate employers for all losses.


Be Responsible For Your Own Competitiveness
- Lianhe Zaobao, 06 December 2007

The writer opined that attracting foreign talent is necessary for Singapore. Singaporeans should be responsible for their own competitiveness and be willing to upgrade themselves, without relying on employer sponsorship or Government subsidy. In this way, they need not worry about being replaced by foreigners during downturns.


Hope That Local Workers' Competitiveness Can Be Enhanced
- Lianhe Zaobao, 01 December 2007

A 45-year-old, low-skilled worker wrote that although the economy has performed well in 2007, his income for the year is less than in 2006. He explained that in 2006, he earned extra from overtime work but in 2007, the Government's relaxation of the foreign manpower policy saw many workers from East Malaysia and China, as well as foreign students here; join the hotel industry. Overtime work then went to these foreigners, depriving local workers including himself, of the extra earnings.


Out In The Cold
- TODAY, 17 December 2007

Though the media has been painting a rosy picture of Singapore's employment market, many of my professional friends in their 40s and 50s feel they have been left out in the cold.

One wonders if the jobs created, mostly in the service sector, are more suitable for younger workers. Singaporeans tend to shun these jobs not because they are unwilling to do them, but rather because they do not pay enough to cover a family's expenses.

Many of my friends have not been able to get a job for months, some even years, though they have lowered their expectations drastically. One, an engineer, left his job late last year but until now has not been able to get a job.

Although he has breadth of experience and has even headed a department, so far no employer has been keen to tap his skills and experience.

He is willing to take a pay cut of up to 50 per cent to make ends meet. Despite this, he is still desperately searching for a job in a very vibrant job market.

Many friends say employers prefer younger workers as they are less demanding and more eager to learn.

Some bosses also prefer foreigners as they are cheaper to hire. Hiring from abroad both dampens wages and forces locals to compete with a mass influx of foreigners. Apparently, there are firms that will only replace outgoing local staff with foreigners.

Unless some priority is given to unemployed locals, I fear that the feeling of discontentment may grow with time.

Gilbert Goh Keow Wah