MP Pritam Singh

Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied): Thank you, Mr Speaker. Sir, the Sunday Times yesterday carried a two-page story on the new ONE Pass. It quoted a sustainability recruiter, one Greg Brittain, as saying and I quote, “The solution is not simply to import more talent. It needs to be a combination of upscaling and developing local talent, alongside bridging in talent to support the building of capacity within Singapore.”

Another individual, a Mr Dimitri Volkov of a cyber security company, remarked that only local experts can effectively identify, monitor and respond to threats and his firm contributes to the ecosystem by exposing local talent to real cyber threats.

Sir, these individuals understand that skills transfer to Singaporean workers must be at the centre of our foreign manpower policies to ensure that Singaporeans can avail themselves to good job opportunities, from management to staffing positions.

I have two supplementary questions for the Minister. First, at last year’s Parliamentary debate on the motion on securing Singaporeans’ jobs and livelihoods, and the foreign talent policy, the Workers’ Party raised several alternative proposals to alleviate the concerns of Singaporeans’ at the workplace and to ensure that the local foreign employment divide does not become a permanent fault line.

With the introduction of the ONE Pass and several changes to the Employment Pass (EP) framework, as announced by Minister, how does the Ministry intend to promote and track the transfer of skills to Singaporeans by EP holders, such as the ONE Pass?

In view of the Ministerial Statement, has the Minister ruled out fixed term employment passes or other schemes that incentivise such skills transfer to Singaporeans to address skills related underemployment, amongst other things?

Second supplementary question, MOM’s press release on the ONE Pass states that there are a few routes to apply for it, and it covered two in the main text of the press release and three at the Annex. The Annex also stated that more details on the eligibility for new applications and renewals would be published. Can the Minister confirm if there are any other eligibility criteria for the ONE Pass that have not been published thus far?

Dr Tan See Leng: I thank Mr Pritam Singh for his comments and his question. I do not think we will cover the earlier comment on The Sunday Times. I think perhaps at a separate Sitting, I would be happy to engage him further. Just to take his supplementary questions.

In my speech earlier, I have already shared, in terms of our views about the benefits the top talent will bring in and the potential spin-offs that we have. I suggest that he could refer to that in the Hansard.

Today, as we speak, there are many, many Government programmes that support capability development. The Government has given significant SkillsFuture subsidies – Enterprise Singapore (ESG)’s Enterprise Development Programme as well as sector-specific programmes where various sector agencies are continually supporting the development of skillsets for our locals.

One of the programmes that he was particularly interested in is the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP), which is one of the programmes that he has actually raised and filed Parliamentary Questions on before. Under this CTP, funding support is provided to companies to acquire global capabilities that are not available in Singapore. This can be done in a variety of ways such as bringing foreign specialists into Singapore to train locals in new capabilities or sending locals for overseas training attachments.

The scheme was created and since its inception in 2017, it has benefited more than 140 companies and more than 1,000 locals. Our locals have experienced expanded job scopes as they acquired new skills. The last two and a half years, we had some setbacks because of COVID-19, but with the reopening of borders, we once again would like to welcome companies to tap on this if they need to bring in global experts in cutting edge areas.

His second point is in terms of multiple routes of the ONE Pass – ONE is an acronym for Overseas Networks & Expertise. We are working on all the other routes, through different sector agencies, in terms of coming up with a framework and we will also worked, as I have shared, with MOE, with MCCY, with NRF and a few other agencies, to identify some of these criteria in which we can target these global talents with this kind of expertise.

So, towards the end of the year – the scheme will start on 1 January 2023 – I suggest that he watches this space. More details will be released in due course.

Ministry of Manpower
12 September 2022

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