Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Singapore Seeks to Put Locals First in Line for Jobs ; Employers Must Post Openings in City-State before Looking Overseas

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Singapore Seeks to Put Locals First in Line for Jobs ; Employers Must Post Openings in City-State before Looking Overseas

Article excerpt

A new policy requires openings to be posted in the city-state before they are offered to overseas workers.

The government of Singapore announced measures on Monday that will compel companies to give priority to local residents in the job recruitment process, a move that could create more challenges for multinationals doing business in the Southeast Asian city-state.

The new measures will require companies operating in Singapore to advertise vacancies to local residents for a two-week period before they can apply to fill positions with overseas workers. The recruitment notices must be posted to a central job bank to be administered by a government employment agency, according to a statement released Monday by the Ministry of Manpower.

"Providing better jobs and diverse opportunities to meet Singaporeans' aspirations are the ultimate objectives of economic growth," Tan Chuan-Jin, the acting minister for manpower, said in the statement. "What we are doing is to put in place measures to nudge employers to give Singaporeans -- especially our young graduates and professionals, managers and executives -- a fair chance at both job and development opportunities."

Singapore has already taken steps this year to make it more difficult to import workers, including increases in levies on workers from overseas and reduction of the permitted ratio of foreign to local employees at companies in the services, manufacturing, construction and maritime sectors.

Singapore is a major hub for regional and multinational companies operating in Southeast Asia, and such measures have raised concerns in the foreign business community about the ability to meet staffing needs, given Singapore's aging population and low fertility rate. In January, nine foreign business groups, including the American, Australian, British, Canadian and European chambers of commerce, sent a letter expressing these concerns to local labor officials.

"Singapore's openness to foreign labor has enabled it to attract, retain and absorb the best of foreign talent, providing it with a clear competitive advantage over its neighbors," the business groups wrote. …

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