Residents make up bulk of PMETs

SINGAPORE - Foreigners make up around one in five of Singapore's mid- to higher-skilled workforce, or what is called the professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) group.

Comparatively, residents - Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) - make up the bulk of this segment, where competition from foreigners is often cited as a concern.

Residents account for 79 per cent of the PMET workforce.

These estimates were released for the first time yesterday by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD), as part of an Issues Paper called "Our Population, Our Future".

The proportion of foreigners in the PMET workforce is "not very high" said a population expert, Professor Jean Yeung from the Asia Research Institute in Singapore. But she added that while the Government is controlling the inflow of foreign talent, it should offer attractive benefits, such as in housing and education, to residents in order to strike a balance.

The NPTD estimates also showed that residents still formed the bulk of the non-PMET workforce, which comprises low- to semi-skilled workers. Residents make up 57 per cent of this segment, while non-residents accounted for 43 per cent.

Charting the composition of foreign manpower by sector, the paper also showed that the 43 per cent of such workers, or 427,000, are in services. This was followed by the construction sector, which accounted for 30 per cent, or 292,500 workers, while the manufacturing sector made up 27 per cent, or 268,000 workers.

About 4,100 workers or 0.4 per cent were classified under the "others" segment.

The Issues Paper, which is available on the NPTD website, is part of ongoing engagement to get public feedback on Singapore's population issues.

NPTD has also met up with close to 200 people from different stakeholder groups, including those from the community sector, businesses and unions, and students, said a spokesman.

The feedback will be taken into consideration for a White Paper on the country's population, which is targeted to be ready later this year.

In the 40-page Issues Paper, NPTD also set out the demographic challenges facing Singapore, and what choices and trade-offs need to be considered to tackle an ageing and declining citizen population.

As of December last year, Singapore's total population hit 5.26 million, with 3.81 million made up by citizens and permanent residents. The country's non-resident population stood at 1.46 million.

The Issues Paper said that at current birth rates, and without immigration, the citizen population will begin to shrink around 2025. By 2030, there will be 2.1 working-age citizens to every one elderly citizen.

"Underlying this debate is the idea that a society that is uncomfortable with replacing itself naturally or via in-migration will not be sustainable in the long run," said Mr Christopher Gee, a research associate at the Institute of Policy Studies.

Mr Gee said members of the public should use this opportunity to express their views and "what they feel is the right balance between economic growth, the quality of life and social ties".

Members of the public can send in their views at, or through e-mail at

They can also fax their views on 6325-3240 or mail their feedback to NPTD at 5 Maxwell Road, #13-00 Tower Block, MND Complex, Singapore 069110.

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