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ST says more openings for PMETs but MAS MD wants more foreign PMETs to be hired

by Vincent Low

Straits Times reported today (8 Feb) that there are now more openings for PMETs, reflecting the overall shift towards higher value-added jobs.

Quoting from a report from the Minister of Manpower that was released yesterday, ST said that the PMET job opening figure rose a notch to 49 per cent of all vacancies last September, compared with 48 per cent the year before.

Even though it's just a 1 per cent point higher, ST chose to report it as: "The latest Ministry of Manpower (MOM) job vacancies report, released yesterday, also showed more openings for PMETs..."

But the total number of job openings is going down.

In the first 9 months last year, there were only 53,100 jobs up for grabs. Over the same period, it was 60,000 in 2015 and 53,800 in 2016.

To overcome skill mismatches, MOM is urging employers to widen their pool of potential hires. Mismatches will be a growing challenge, as "the nature of jobs continues to evolve with technology and industry transformation", MOM said.

MAS MD Ravi Menon wants Singapore to hire more foreign PMETs

Two weeks ago (22 Jan), Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore, Ravi Menon gave a speech at an IPS conference called "IPS Singapore Perspectives 2018". His speech is entitled "Economic Dynamism Amidst Demographic Change".

In view of Singapore's low birthrate, Mr Menon wants Singapore to hire more foreign PMETs.

"There is scope to improve the quality of the foreign workforce," he said. "We should increasingly be concerned about the skills of the foreign workers that we take in, rather than just the numbers."

"In fact, more skilled foreign workers will mean that we will need less of them," he added. That is to say, Mr Menon thinks that by hiring more skilled foreign PMETs, it will help Singapore to reduce the need for unskilled foreign workers.

"The trend of improving quality in our foreign workforce has already begun," he commented.

"The proportion of work permit holders has declined by about 10 percentage points over last 10 years, while the proportion of S-Pass and employment pass holders has increased by around 10 percentage points."

And he wants this trend, that is, the hiring of more foreign PMETS, to continue as "we restructure our economy towards higher value-added activities, seek deeper skills, and undertake more pervasive digitalisation".

Of course, hiring more foreign PMETs would mean greater competition with our own local PMETs and more likely for our PMETs to end up as Uber drivers, helping to drive the foreign PMETs to work.