SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) refers to recent letters ("Stricter hiring rules: Employers caught off guard, and struggling" by Ms Tan Saw Bin, "Fixing an honest month's wages for pass holders" by Mr Matthew Ong, and "Work passes for supporting jobs" by Ms Grace Chua, all on Nov 10; and "Manpower policies: More clarity needed" by Mr Matthew Ong, Nov 13). We understand the concerns shared here.
The Government has been clear on its long-term strategy.
The strategic shift to productivity-led growth and moderating reliance on foreign manpower has been clearly articulated by the Economic Strategies Committee in 2010.
Since then, the series of deliberate and calibrated measures to raise the quality and moderate the growth of foreign manpower were not only introduced gradually but also phased in so that businesses can adjust.
The adjustments will not be easy, and therefore, a complementary package of productivity strategies and incentives was also introduced and progressively enhanced to help businesses restructure and cope with the changes.
We will continue to do so.
We recognise that businesses need predictability in planning their manpower needs.
The MOM seeks to provide this through the online Self-Assessment Tool (http://sat.mom.gov.sg/), for employers to assess if their potential or existing foreign employees will meet the prevailing eligibility criteria for Employment Passes and S Passes.
Many companies and their recruitment agencies continue to put in applications for candidates which would be assessed to be ineligible if they had tapped on the Self-Assessment Tool.
We urge companies to make full use of the online tool.
Enabling companies to grow and succeed is critical to Singapore, because only when companies prosper and thrive can Singaporeans enjoy better jobs and rising wages.
Therefore, even as we raise the quality and moderate the growth in foreign worker numbers, we continue to allow companies to access necessary skills and talents needed to remain competitive.
Foreign manpower will remain essential and complementary to our local workforce.
We assure businesses that any policy changes will be made known early to give companies reasonable transition time to make adjustments.
We will continue to engage and obtain feedback from our stakeholders, both the business community and the unions, on our policies and processes.