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Mystery of “No degree needed” solved?

By SY Lee and Leong Sze Hian

"Do not go on a paper chase for qualifications or degrees, especially if they are not relevant because pathways and opportunities to upgrade and to get better qualifications will remain open throughout your career. It is never the last chance. You always have the possibility to advance, to improve yourself, to take another step as long as you are working, as long as your mind remains fresh and active and you dare to go." - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his national day rally speech 2014

We have been wondering and trying for some time now to find the statistics to try to explain why the recent rhetoric that “you do not need to have a degree”?

Well, we think we may have found it.

S-Pass increased 99%?

According to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) website – in the last 4.5 years, from December 2009 to June 2014 – the number of Employment Pass increased by 55%, from 114,300 to 176,600.

MOM foreign workforce numbers
Screengrab from MOM's website

S-Pass increased by a whopping 99%, from 82,800 to 164,700.

Other Work Passes (such as foreign spouses on Letters of Consent) increased by 183%, from 5,200 to 14,700.

Work permits increased only 8%?

In contrast, Work Permits (excluding foreign domestic workers and construction workers) increased by only 8%, from 409,500 to 441,300.

PMET jobs?

We believe whilst the majority of Singaporeans may accept that lower-pay jobs which are often filled by foreign workers on work permits, may be generally jobs that Singaporeans may shun – the Employment and S-Pass may clearly and widely be seen as taking away jobs and depressing wages, particularly for Professionals, Managers, Engineers and Technicians’ (PMETs) jobs that Singaporeans want.

No CPF, no quota, no levy?

Moreover, the Employment Pass and Letter of Consent do not have foreign worker levies and are not counted in the foreign workers’ quota, and together with the S-Pass – also do not require employer CPF contributions.

S-Pass increased at the rate of change of 11 times that of work permits?

As the above analysis show – the S-Pass increased by more than 11 times (99% divided by 8%) on a relative basis, compared to work permits.

“Statistically” unsustainable for degree holders?

So, perhaps the “statistical” reasons for the “no need degree” may be the huge influx of non-work permit foreign workers.