Some residents spoke to Workers’ Party Member of Parliament Jamus Lim about the difficulties Singaporeans face in today’s job market during house visits this week.
One spoke to the Sengkang GRC MP about possible challenges Singaporeans face due to the new Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) Pass, which may end up with foreign talents favouring hiring their countrymen instead of locals.
Another resident told Assoc Prof Lim that “Singaporeans enjoyed few privileges in the local job market.”
Due to a lack of opportunities, some Singaporeans have resorted to options such as private hire driving.
“For him, this is an unbelievable state of affairs; in other countries, it is the migrants that drove the Ubers and Grabs, but it seems to be the other way round here,” wrote Assoc Prof Lim.
The MP called these “long, sobering conversations” about “the gnawing sense of feeling like Singaporeans are disadvantaged in their own country.”
He underlined, however, that the residents he spoke to are “not instinctively anti-foreigner” with “nativist sentiments that are now commonplace in many countries.”
And because Assoc Prof Lim also experienced this “sense of discrimination” when he himself competed with others while working overseas, he added that it “breaks my heart to hear that there are many workers that feel the same way, right at home.”
He wrote in a Friday morning (Sept 23) Facebook post that he and his team had only covered one-third of Block 355A because of the lengthy conversations about the job market they had.
“With so many Singaporeans returning to the workplace, many conversations revolved around the labor market, and in particular, the place of foreign talent relative to our domestic workforce. Two stories—from two ends of the jobs ladder—left an impression on me.”
One resident talked about the ONE Pass introduced by the Manpower Ministry late last month. It allows high-earners and high-achievers from overseas to live in Singapore before securing a job in an initiative to strengthen Singapore’s position as a global hub for talent.
The resident had just come home from working for a number of years in China and has been having a hard time finding employment in Singapore in spite of his skills and experience.
“He expressed his concern that ONEPass—despite its high qualification bar—would ultimately end up exacerbating the difficulties locals faced in advancing to the upper tiers of the corporate hierarchy, thereby relegating them to being trapped in middle management,” Assoc Prof Lim wrote, adding that “This fear was further corroborated by his impression that many foreign nationals working here tended to favor their own countrymen, further alienating Singaporeans when they seek at job at home.”
The other resident the Sengkang GRC MP wrote about told them that Singaporeans enjoyed few privileges in the local job market, especially with foreign workers willing to settle for lower salaries that were still better than what they would earn back home.
“The opportunity to earn Singapore dollars—which would translate into much more in terms of purchasing power in their home currencies—more than made up for a comparatively lower salary,” he added. /TISG
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