SINGAPORE - A "Singaporeans First" manpower policy may not work well for the country as "employers may feel constrained and be unable to hire the best person for the job", said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor yesterday.
Dr Khor was responding to Foo Mee Har, Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC, who spoke in Parliament on Monday when she mentioned that the hiring and development of Singaporeans should be actively promoted and championed.
Compelling employers to hire local professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) without the right skills, however, will introduce "significant labour market rigidity", said Dr Khor.
"Employers may feel constrained and be unable to hire the best person for the job. That may ultimately hurt Singaporeans when companies find their manpower needs unmet and they relocate some or all of their operations elsewhere," she added.
Dr Khor also stressed that in a globalised economy, competition for jobs is not just within countries, but also among countries. "As a small city-state, we must be able to first compete with other cities for job opportunities by making sure that Singapore remains an attractive place for businesses," she said.
Ms Foo later clarified her position on the matter.
While Singapore "must remain open and leverage on international talents", Singaporeans who are qualified should be given the opportunity to do the jobs first before companies are allowed to bring in foreigners, said Ms Foo.
"What is very, very important to Singaporeans is that they are absolutely given the bite of the cherry first because they feel they've sometimes been discriminated against, and this is only right," she said.
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