At first glance, the latest move to ensure fair employment for Singaporeans seems superficial ("Firms must show they tried to recruit Singaporeans first"; Tuesday).
Hiring companies can go through the motions of putting an advertisement in the government-run job bank, then go back to their old ways.
Also, I do not understand why we need another job bank when there are already several job portals.
But after careful consideration, I found the Government's initiative to have sufficient merits.
First, the fundamental principle of giving priority to Singaporeans is clear. It is a moral victory for Singaporeans whose families are rooted here and who are committed to the nation's well-being.
Second, the scheme gives employers sufficient leeway in their hiring decisions.
We can debate whether the 14-day period for the job ads is too long or too short, or whether the punitive measures have sufficient deterrent effect, but we must recognise that hiring is ultimately a personal decision.
Having been in human resources for more than 20 years and in executive search for the past seven years, I know that hiring is based on a myriad of subjective and objective factors; in most instances, it is the "chemistry" that counts.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Manpower Ministry has deemed it necessary to act. This has wide and far-ranging political and social implications.
Singapore's employment landscape has changed rapidly along with the influx of foreign talent and workers.
Now, there is structural unemployment; manufacturing companies are moving out and service-based firms are moving in.
The first act is always fraught with uncertainty and unanticipated results. Let's be patient and judge the results.
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