Significant Drop in Foreign Employment Last Year: MOM

March 20, 20189:43 am363 views

The latest figures released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Mar 15) suggested that there were fewer foreigners and more locals in the workforce last year. The number of foreigners working in Singapore dipped by 32,000 last year, indicating the biggest drop in the 15 years. On the other hand, more locals were reportedly securing jobs.

While the decline was mostly owing to fewer work permit holders in the construction and marine shipyard industries, the report also revealed that the number of skilled foreigners on employment passes (EP) also went down by 4,500. This was the first drop in at least six years, Straits Times reports.

According to the ministry, among industries that absorbed fewer EP holders including the professional services and infocomm technology sectors as they hired more local workers. The last time Singapore saw such a steep decline in the number of foreigners working in the country was in 2002, when the figures plummeted by 43,000.

MOM said that the construction and marine shipyard industries played key role as there was poor demand for oil rigs. However, observers also said that this could be attribute to the success in the government’s ‘Singapore-core’ effort in the workforce. This move aims to tighten foreign manpower policies and upgrade the skills of local workers.

See: 7 in 10 Finance Leaders in Singapore Failed to Hire the Best-fit Talents

Overall, 21,300 more Singaporeans and permanent residents were in active employment last year than in 2016. This figure made up a slightly bigger share of the workforce, from 66.4 percent to 67.2 percent last year. Excluding maids, the total workforce stood at 3.42 million in December.

This trend follows recent tightening rules for hiring foreigner in Singapore. To respond to this policy, businesses are turning more to hire locals. Employers are also increasingly relying on government schemes to source and train local workers.

Some companies choose to train their existing workforce instead of hiring foreign manpower to fill the skill gaps. Meanwhile, some others said they are unable to find suitable local talents to fill certain positions, especially in high-tech areas such as artificial intelligence and data analytics. In response to this issue, MOM said that it plans to develop such skills among locals.

Read also: New Move Launched to Strengthen Human Resource Practices in Banks

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