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Workers cross road in downtown Singapore from Shutterstock.com

Even foreign employment agencies are preferred over local agencies?

I refer to the article “2nd foreign agency starts work to help PMETs in job search” (Straits Times, Jun 13).

The states that Maximus Asia is the second foreign job-placement agency appointed by the Government under a two-year pilot scheme. The first agency, Ingeus, started operations in April.

When asked how many job seekers Ingeus has taken on and how many have found jobs, the Workforce Singapore (WSG) said: “We will not be giving an update on Ingeus at this point in time” – why are there no statistics as to how many of the jobs in the National Jobs Bank actually went to Singaporeans, and how many of the PMET job seekers managed to find jobs?

In this connection, according to the Department of Statistics’ Monthly Digest of Statistics – the job placement rate to new job registrants (all workers including PMETs) was 39.9 per cent in March 2017, compared to 53.6 per cent in March last year.

With regard to “It declined to disclose how much it is paying Maximus Asia and Ingeus, citing “contractual agreements”. It had said previously that the providers will be paid based on actual placements made.

Maximus Asia has 14 staff in total, of whom 12 are local” – how many of the local staff are Singaporeans?

In respect of “Checks found that its Singapore subsidiary Maximus Asia, registered in March, has a paid-up capital of just $1.

The subsidiary has four directors: two Americans, an Australian and a Singaporean, Ms Noor Hasna Jani, who is also director of almost 900 firms here, about half of which have either been struck off or deregistered.

Maximus has been embroiled in several controversies overseas. The Guardian newspaper reported last year that British government auditors found that it failed to meet the targets of a national assessment scheme for disability payments that it was contracted to do, despite escalating costs.

In 2007, the firm paid US$30.5 million to settle a federal fraud lawsuit in the US.

When asked, WSG said it picked Maximus because of its “established track record” and “proven commitment”.

On the firm’s history and $1 structure, the WSG said that they were “factored into the consideration… but did not affect the ultimate outcome”” – what kind of message are we sending to Singaporean workers – that foreign employment agencies are preferred over local ones?

This may be akin to adding insult to injury – given all the unhappiness about discrimination against Singaporeans in jobs.

Also, with all the news about dubious qualifications and credentials of foreigners – we end up choosing one (out of the thousands in the world) – which “paid US$30.5 million to settle a federal fraud lawsuit” and “British government auditors found that it failed to meet the targets of a national assessment scheme for disability payments that it was contracted to do, despite escalating costs”!