COS 2021: Work Passes for Foreigners

Mr Leon Perera (Aljunied): Mr Chairman, in October 2020, I called for a mix of fixed-term and non-fixed term work passes for foreigners, to attract investments in next-generation industries and stave off job displacements. Such a mix could be offered to investors for specific projects, especially in highly desirable future-ready industries where Singapore has competitive advantages. The mix could be tweaked, depending on the degree of international competition for that investment. I reiterate this call today. 

For fixed-term foreign work passes, the foreign worker would be hired for a fixed term of, say, five years, for example, and this time would be used to train up Singaporeans with equivalent skills. After the fixed term, hopefully, there will be enough Singaporeans with the relevant skills to replace that foreign worker. This shares similarities with the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa in Australia where, if appropriately skilled Australian workers cannot be found, employers can bring in skilled workers for a fixed period.

Furthermore, the Employment Pass scheme aims to train Singaporean citizens and upgrade their skills, fixed-term work passes meet precisely the same. I acknowledge that the current work pass scheme such as the employment pass and newly-launched Tech.Pass aimed to attract skilled workers redressing skill shortages.

However, more can be done to train up a Singaporean Core in next-generation industries and incentivises employers to hire Singaporeans. For example, while the Tech.Pass is targeted at the movers and shakers of the tech world, fixed-term work passes target or broader spectrum of skilled workers across disruptive industries.

For fixed-term work passes, firms should have action plans for capability transfers to equivalent locals as well as mentorship schemes if feasible. Training can be tied to existing schemes in workplaces or academic institutions. Extensions to fixed-term work passes can be considered in the case of very extreme extenuating circumstances.

Ministry of Manpower
2 March 2021

%d bloggers like this: