No doubt, Singapore is an attractive country. In 2019, Singapore firstly has ranked top for the world’s most competitive economy, ahead of Hong Kong and the United States. After that, this year, Singapore has ranked second place up globally for the world's most innovative countries in 2020. Besides winning these big titles, clean, efficient, with low tax rates and along with recent unrest political situation in Hong Kong, Singapore has long been the city of choice for Western expats.
However, COVID-19 has brought in the biggest disruption to everyone and everywhere. Singapore is now facing the worst recession in history. As a result, firms are rethinking for their expansion and hiring plans. With the high unemployment rate, Singapore is prioritising to reserve jobs to locals.
Reserving Jobs to Locals
The Singapore government is taking action. They are putting in efforts to promote local hiring.
Earlier this month, Manpower Ministry (MOM) has put 47 companies on a watch-list for suspected discriminatory hiring practices. The list includes banks, fund managers and consulting firms that may have pre-selected foreigners for jobs or not given Singaporeans a fair chance. This adds to the 240 companies already under scrutiny.
The Singapore government has also tightened the framework that governs employment passes for foreigners. Moreover, they are increasing the minimum monthly salary which makes hiring foreign professionals' cost become higher than hiring locals. On the other hand, employers are required to advertise job openings to local first. Companies are taking pains to describe their efforts to retain Singaporean jobs.
Stricter Conditions Make Singapore a Less Welcoming Destination
With the strict conditions by government, there are foreign professionals experiencing a constant failed on job applications. Even candidates are getting through the application and interview process, the roadblock is still here.
Andrew Zee, team lead for financial services at Selby Jennings tells Bloomberg, permits were denied for some of his job candidates - a first for him in more than four years - though they were later approved on appeal.
Without successfully landing to a work pass, foreign professionals are looking to leave Singapore and go back home. It, therefore, reflects on the expat housing market. Housing agents see several clients heading home. Signed rental agreement dropped from four per month to, if lucky, one per month.
It Is Not Just Singapore
Singapore isn’t alone in fighting for local jobs. U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order this month barring federal agencies from replacing citizens or green card holders with foreign workers.
"Employers in Singapore are all united and align with #SGUnited campaigns. We all want to be part of it and, therefore, doing our best to help Singaporean. As a recruitment partner for clients, to be honest, we see there is no bias between local and foreign professionals. Often, especially for middle-to-senior level roles, our clients are focusing on the candidates' skillsets and relevant experiences. We always provide an unbiased CV, which doesn't contain the candidates' information (such as name and location) that hiring managers will be able to tell about their nationality or gender. So they won't be able to consider foreign professionals first," said Zee.
"Furthermore, travel is limited due to Covid-19. There will be less consideration towards overseas professionals as most of the hiring needs now are for business-critical roles, which are urgent roles that help the business to drive forward and overcome this difficult challenging time," said Zee.
To read the original article, please visit Bloomberg.
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