Fair Consideration Framework – MOM to set up national jobs bank

Under this framework, fair consideration must be given to Singaporeans seeking work. A national jobs bank is the centrepiece of the framework. Employers of workers, especially young graduates and Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs), are to treat Singaporeans fairly and be given the jobs if they are qualified to do the job.

Employers, with some exceptions, are to advertise the positions on the national jobs bank for at least 14 calendar days. There is visibility and Singaporeans can then apply for these jobs. The exemptions from this rule are firms with 25 or fewer staff and firms hiring for jobs that pay at least $12,000 fixed salary per month. Employers submitting new employment pass (EP) applications must comply with the advertising requirements with effect from 1 August 2014.

We read and hear stories of discrimination against Singaporeans who were bypassed and foreigners were engaged under employment pass. In a climate of tightening foreign work force and population surge in the past few years, this fair consideration framework came about. This is in addition to the foreign worker quota based on sectoral Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) put in place to control foreign workers (work permits and S passes) in a firm.

So how big is this discrimination problem? I have no sense of the proportion.

In all fairness, there should not be any exemptions for some firms if this national jobs bank is to be instituted. It is either all or nothing. So long as there is an application for employment pass for workers, these firms must advertise these positions. How onerous is it for small firms to put up such advertisements on the national jobs bank?

I understand that some employers find it sensitive to advertise job vacancies which they rather not let the whole nation know there are movements in job positions. This applies not only to firms hiring employees earning at least $12,000 but other firms as well.

I believe that attitudes and mindsets of recruiting firms are very important when come to hiring workers. If firms believe in contribution of Singaporeans on the jobs and they are trainable, they will engage Singaporeans. This kind of attitudes must be recognised in some ways. If firms wanting to engage foreigners no matter what, they will find ways and there is no stopping them.

We must also know that competition faced by our Singaporean workers is the global workers out there. We have to survive if wanted to move up the corporate ladder. The real protection of jobs is for us to keep upgrading to keep up with the competition. Talents and skills are our insurance. If one chooses to reduce work pressure, then one must accept stagnation or even reduction in job responsibilities. It is a choice, we must choose.

Has the pendulum moved to the other extreme, that Singapore had to come to this? Will there be other ways to arrive at the same outcome, i.e. fair consideration for Singaporeans? Would greater scrutiny by MOM of known discriminatory practices send a strong message to like-minded firms from doing the same? Can a whistle-blowing system work better?

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