250 Companies in Singapore under Closer Scrutiny by the Government on EP Applications

October 13, 20161:32 pm318 views

The Government is monitoring 250 companies and 300 employment pass applications are under closer scrutiny, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say in the Parliament. Labelled “triple-weak” by the Government, these companies do not meet the minimum criteria to possess and build a Singaporean core in their workforce, in terms of relevance to Singapore’s economy and society.

About 100 companies were identified by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) in February this year, of which 20 percent of them have been off the watchlist. However, since then 180 “triple-weak” companies have been identified, which brings the current total to 250.

Lim was quoted by Channel News Asia saying, “In the last six months, Tafep has been working very closely with them, to improve their HR practices. Of the100 companies, about 20 per cent, or one in five responded. They took part in our job fairs, they stepped up training for locals, and in fact, some even have a knowledge transfer programme for the locals.”

So we decided to remove the one-fifth from the watch list, since their HR practices are now at par with the industry standards. For the remaining 80 percent, EP applications are being closely scrutinised, until the Government is convinced that they meet Fair consideration requirement.

Responding to one of the questions posed in the parliament, if the manpower ratio of locals to foreigners at 2:1 can be maintained, considering the slowing economy growth, Lim said, “Looking ahead in the next five to ten years, the local workforce growth will slow down. The question is whether as we slow down, would we still be able to maintain the (ratio)? The key consideration is productivity gain.”

If Singapore strives for 2 to 3 percent productivity gain, then Lim thinks the pressure on increasing the total workforce will be less. Without indicating any projections for now or in future, Lim emphasised on the need to apply minds to innovation through productivity, since it is the most sustainable way to sustain growth in the long term, without being overly dependent on foreign manpower.

Explaining why he thinks it would not be wise to adjust the EP scheme for qualified Singaporeans to be considered first for vacancies, Lim cited an example of semiconductor firm Micron, which recently invested a few billion dollars to open an expanded facility in Singapore.

This facility with such mega investments in place would need few hundred PMETs to keep the place running. However, if MOM intervenes and stresses on the need for local recruitment with Singaporeans to be given the first preference, then such reputation could eventually create problem for MTI and other agencies to compete for the best investments in the world.

To help local Singaporeans seek employment, Government suggests focusing on enhancing their employability. While having EPs in the system is not a bad thing, and in the next five to ten years, the country would still have EPs in a slowly economy, it is not right if it leads to unfair consideration for the local workforce.


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