ARMED with statistics and numbers, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has dismissed the notion that foreigners have edged out Singaporeans for white-collar jobs.
Job and income growth, in fact, have been steadily rising for local professionals, even as unemployment remained low.
The outgoing Manpower Minister wrote on a Manpower Ministry blog yesterday that real median income for local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) grew about 2 per cent each year from 2009 to last year.
Unemployment rate among local white-collar workers remained low at 2.9 per cent last year.
At the same time, white-collar foreign workforce growth has slowed.
Work passes for foreign professionals, which include the Employment Pass (EP) and S-Pass, grew just 4 per cent last year, down from the 20 per cent growth rate back in 2011.
Mr Tan's blog post comes after a report by Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on Tuesday which pointed out that the growth in EP holders, the highest-tier work pass for foreigners, almost tripled from 1,300 in 2013 to 3,800 last year.
However, the growth of the S-Pass, which is for mid-level skilled foreigners, fell from 18,500 to 9,200 last year.
Mr Tan said the article created the impression that foreigners may be taking the jobs of Singaporeans. He noted some may think that even with low unemployment, locals have to settle for lower-paying jobs because of competition from foreigners.
To this, he pointed out that incomes for local professionals grew in tandem with the 2.1 per cent median income growth of all Singaporean workers from 2009 to 2014.
Hence, the rise of foreign PMETs does not mean that more Singapore PMETs are unemployed and working in lower-paying jobs, he said.
Like all workers, Mr Tan said, local professionals will face challenges as businesses restructure.
"What matters at the end of the day is whether one has the necessary skills required to perform the job," he added.
However, even as the employment prospects for locals remain good, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will ensure that local workers are not subjected to unfair hiring practices.
"The MOM will undertake a proper investigation. We will protect the interest of our locals and not allow the festering of unfair hiring practices," said Mr Tan.
This article was first published on April 11, 2015.
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