Immigrant Jobs at Risk in Singapore

The Singaporean governments’ determination to nurture and reward home talent was reflected in its recent manifesto on work immigration, although at a high potential cost for immigrant workers.

On February 25th, Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam outlined the 2013 Budget Statement for the Financial Year, with one of the main targets being to transform the Singaporean workforce and economy. The Ministry of Manpower is on an ambitious quest to lessen the pressure on the country’s social infrastructure, thereby potentially creating more work for native Singaporeans.

The S Pass is a workers permit that enables foreigners to work in Singapore. The government is now introducing a stricter scheme of criteria for foreigners wishing to obtain a work permit in Singapore.

Once the rulings come into force, only managers, mid-level skilled foreign workers and the educated will be able to live and work in Singapore.

The Pass is issued on the basis of a points system. According to The Ministry of Manpower, 1,268,300 foreign workers currently work in Singapore and in 2012, 142,400 foreign workers were the recipients of the all-important S Pass. So it will be interesting to see how this system impacts the economy and alters the amount of immigrant workers in Singapore.

To accumulate points, applicants must meet requirements such as working for a certain amount of years, obtaining a degree or a certificate pertaining to a technical or specialist vocation, and earning a fixed monthly salary of $2000.

The Government is adamant that the Singaporean social infrastructure will only get stronger, but those who feel concerned about these recent measures know that whilst, many Singaporeans will benefit from the amended S Pass regulations, others may end up losing their livelihoods.

Once the rulings come into force, only managers, mid-level skilled foreign workers and the educated will be able to live and work in Singapore. Whatever the sentiment, there is no room for negotiation. To work in Singapore, prospective foreign applicants must meet the criteria of the S Pass.

Although the Ministry of Manpower is optimistic of its new policy stating, “We continue to welcome highly skilled foreign professionals who wish to bring their dependants to stay with them.”  However, the harsh reality of the new immigration regulations means many foreign construction and domestic workers who do not meet the new S Pass criteria will lose the opportunity to work in Singapore.

By Paula Pennant

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