Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng delved into how Singapore plans to attract top foreign talent while ensuring that it complements and ultimately benefits local workers in Parliament on Oct. 3.
300 companies hired discriminately between 2017 to 2021
Tan responded to Member of Parliament (MP) Yip Hon Weng, who asked how many companies have been placed under the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices’ (TAFEP) watchlist in 2021 due to possible breaches of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF).
Workers' Party MP Louis Chua also asked about the number of incidents where companies placing job advertisements were found to have breached the FCF.
Tan revealed that 300 companies were found to have breached the FCF between 2017 to 2021.
Under the framework, all employers in Singapore are required to consider all candidates fairly and should not discriminate based on characteristics that are unrelated to the job, such as age, gender, nationality or race.
Tan said regulatory actions were taken against these companies, such as warnings and a ban from hiring or renewing foreign workers.
On the other hand, firms that have not flouted any rules in terms discriminatory hiring practices, but have an exceptionally high share of foreign Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) compared to their industry peers, or a high concentration of a single foreign nationality source will be placed on FCF's watchlist.
MOM will then engage the employers from these firms, and TAFEP will help these employers "improve their workforce profiles".
Tan said more than 1,700 employers have been placed on FCF's watchlist since 2016.
COMPASS is a "move in the right direction"
The Leader of the Opposition, WP's Pritam Singh posed a follow up question to Tan regarding FCF and the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).
COMPASS is a points based system that will be used to assess the eligibility of candidates who wish to get an employment pass (EP) in Singapore from September 2023.
It has four broad criteria that is divided into individual attributes, such as salary and qualifications, and firm-related attributes, like diversity and support for local employment.
Singh asked: "In view of the ministry's newly introduced COMPASS, where diversity is listed as a firm related attribute in considering EP applicants, how significant in his opinion would this new criteria be in reducing the number of companies on the FCF watchlist over time?"
In response, Tan said he thinks that COMPASS is a move in the right direction, adding that the framework helps to differentiate Singapore's workforce.
Foreign talent creates opportunities for all
Tan also highlighted that it is important for Singapore to attract top foreign talent as it will "create opportunities for locals, at all levels of the workforce".
He used Singapore's Information & Communications (ICT) industry as an example, saying that the sector currently accounts for one-fifth of the EPs in the country, which is up from the one-sixth in 2016.
The growth of the ICT industry in Singapore has created more jobs for locals, Tan said, adding that the number of local PMETs in the sector also grew by 34,400 over the same time period, and median wages continued to increase.
Hiring foreign talent, which complements local expertise when combined, helps Singapore attract more investments and create more good job and career choices for locals, said Tan.
Top image screenshot from Ministry of Communications and Information/YouTube