ST’s 3.5 pages on Jobs for who?


Are we doing “too much” to achieve “too little” for Singaporeans on jobs?

There are 3.5 pages on jobs in today’s Sunday Times (Feb 11).

It states that “The number of foreigners working here was also a major issue earlier in the decade, when Singaporeans were concerned about competition for jobs and the strain on infrastructure”.

So, what are we saying? That “The number of foreigners working here was also a major issue earlier in the decade” – but is now no longer “a major issue”?

I suggest that you read the 3.5 pages and decide for yourself.

As to “Although there is no fixed formula for success, the balance of two locals to one foreigner in the workforce looks set to stay for now.

Both Mr Chan and Second Manpower Minister Josephine Teo reiterate that this ratio is about right.

“There’s no magic number but where we are at the balancing point now is about one-third, two-thirds,” says Mr Chan.

The local workforce, comprising Singaporeans and permanent residents, is about 2.3 million in size now. There are another 1.4 million foreigners working here” – if we add the PRs to the foreign workers – does it mean that about 47 per cent of the total workforce are not Singaporeans?

In any case – 1.4 million foreigners over the 2.3 million local workforce, is not a ratio of one-third (33 per cent), but 38 per cent.

With regard to “Local workforce growth has been slowing due to the ageing population, even as more women and older workers take on jobs.

Last year, it expanded by an estimated 0.9 per cent, slightly better than the rates of 0.5 per cent and zero in the previous two years, but down from 4.4 per cent in 2014 (“Ensuring all workers are quality workers”, Sunday Times, Feb 11) –  why is there is no breakdown of the local jobs growth into Singaporeans and PRs.

With an average of about 30,000 new permanent residents (PRs) and 20,000 new citizens granted per year – how many of the 33,200 local residents’ employment growth in the last three years went to Singaporeans?

If we account for the foreign workers who were reclassified as resident workers when they became PRs or citizens – how many of the jobs went to Singaporeans?

So, what is the “real” unemployment rate for true-blue Singaporeans?

The article “Redesigning jobs, retooling mindsets” (Sunday Times, Feb 11) states that “More than 100 training programmes, a clutch of Cabinet ministers putting their heads together, two major policies. No effort is spared in trying to train workers and redesign jobs for the future economy. Insight asks: Will they work?”.

What’s the point of “More than 100 training programmes, a clutch of Cabinet ministers putting their heads together, two major policies” and pouring tons of money – when hardly any of the local jobs growth of 33,200 in the last three years may have gone to Singaporeans?

Uniquely Singapore!

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.