More measures to give Singaporeans a better competitive edge
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More measures to give Singaporeans a better competitive edge

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The Manpower Ministry is broadening the scope of a programme designed to ensure fair opportunities for Singaporeans in the workforce, taking aim at companies that discriminate against local workers.

The expansion of the Fair Consideration Framework, which details the job hiring requirements for companies in Singapore, will include smaller companies and tighter salary requirements for foreign Employment Pass applicants.

Among other things, companies have to first advertise through the National Jobs Bank before they can turn to foreigners to fill the vacancy. This is to ensure that locals are given a fair shot at the jobs.

Failure to comply will result in employers being placed on the FCF watchlist, which will mean additional scrutiny on their Employment Pass applications.

So far, MOM has placed some 500 companies on the watchlist, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say during the debate on his Ministry’s budget in March 2018.

“They have pre-conceived ideas that local PMETs are either unable or unwilling to do the job. So they write them off, without even considering them fairly,” he said.

The stronger focus on clamping down on unfair hiring practices is part of a broader set of announcements made by the Manpower Ministry to ensure that Singapore is equipped to meet the manpower challenges of the future.

At the same time, Mr Lim also announced that the salary bar will be raised  for employers looking to hire foreigners on the S-Pass. S-Pass holders tend to be foreign workers who are employed at the lower to mid-level.

Mr Lim noted that with slower manpower growth on the horizon, it remains imperative that the Government maximises the potential of the country’s workforce.

“With slower manpower growth into the future we need to maximise the potential of our 2/3 local, 1/3 foreign workforce…We must strive for 2/3 + 1/3 not just = 1, but > 1,” he said.

“2/3 + 1/3 >1 may be bad mathematics but if we all work together, I am confident that even bad mathematics can be turned into good manpower policy for the benefit of all.”

Initiatives to support Singaporeans

Apart from stamping out discrimination, the Government is also boosting support for Singaporeans in the workforce.

It is enhancing a range of programmes under the Adapt and Grow initiative, which is targeted at helping Singaporeans affected by economic restructuring.

For instance, the MOM is boosting the level of funding for Work Trials, which will be renamed Career Trials, aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to try new jobs in different industries.

Singaporeans in rank-and-file jobs such as retail assistants, who have been out of work for more than six months, can also look forward to more in-depth training and salary support under the Place-and-Train programme.

The programme looks to train and place workers in companies that are facing a manpower shortage in industries such as early childhood, food and beverage and furniture.

Elaborating on the new Adapt and Grow initiatives, Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo also said that the Government will be introducing plans to help Singaporeans transit into jobs such as AI Game Programmers, Robotics Engineers and Food Production Specialists.

She noted that the Adapt and Grow initiative help to place more than 25,000 jobseekers into new jobs and careers in 2017, about 20 per cent more than in 2016.

“Broadly speaking, we aim to help both missed matches − where employer and jobseekers have not found each other, and mismatches − where there are skills or wage gaps that make it hard for the jobseeker to secure a job,” she added.

For Ms Sharon Cheong, 30, the push to get more Singaporeans into new growth sectors is particularly encouraging. She has recently left her job as an early childhood educator and is keen to try programming as a career.

“I think I will try and give this a shot. I heard learning about coding can be quite challenging but you won’t know until you try, right?” she said.

For those keen on checking out the new programmes for workers, find out more by clicking on the links below.

Adapt and Grow Initiative:

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