In Parliament today (5 Mar), Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say revealed that some 500 companies have been placed on a government watch list for not doing enough to hire Singaporeans.
This number has increased by 100% from the 250 companies placed on the list last year.
Minister Lim said that these companies have the "pre-conceived ideas" that local professionals, managers and executives (PMETs) are "either unable or unwilling to do the job".
"So they write them off without even considering them fairly ... Their Employment Pass applications are subjected to additional scrutiny," he added.
1,900 foreign PMETs blocked in 2 years
Minister Lim further revealed that a total of about 1,900 EP applications were blocked from these 500 or so companies after they have been put on the watch list in the past 2 years.
So, on average, these companies have attempted to hire about 4 more foreigners each after they have been blocked by MOM.
The errant firms were from the information and communication technology, professional services, and financial and insurance activities industries, among others.
Under the Fair Consideration Framework, companies need to consider Singaporeans first before they can hire foreigners on work pass.
Blacklisted IT company with more than 1K employees taken off list after hiring 200 SGs
After some of the companies have been blocked, about 30% or 150 decided to "improve" their human resources practices.
As such, Minister Lim said that these companies have been taken off from the watch list, which means they can start to hire foreigners again on EP. But of course, they will still need to show "fair consideration" to Singaporeans before hiring the foreigners.
That is to say, they will need to advertise the jobs on our National Jobs Bank and ensure that Singaporean applicants are given chances to be interviewed before they can hire foreigners, should the companies deem that Singaporeans indeed do not have the required skills to do the advertised jobs.
One of the companies that were taken off from MOM's watch list is an IT company with more than a thousand PMETs. It was blacklisted by MOM two years ago in Feb 2016. But after working with TAFEP and the Infocomm Media Development Authority, it hired about 200 more Singaporeans and has since been removed from the list, Mr Lim said.
The company continues to adopt progressive human resource practices, which is a win-win outcome for both the business and its workers, he added. However, Minister Lim did not reveal the ratio of Singaporeans to foreigners in that IT company.
Of the remaining 350 companies still on the list, some 60 or 17% of them continue to be uncooperative and refuse to hire Singaporeans.
As a result, MOM has curtailed their work pass privileges, which means they cannot make any new employment pass applications as well as renew existing EPs until they “adopt fair human resource practices”.
Govt: Singaporean PMETs are not losing out to foreign PMETs in the job market
Meanwhile, on government "factually" website, the government continues to say that Singaporean PMETs are not losing out to foreign PMETs in the job market.
The government said that it's a myth to think so.
"If this is true, the unemployment rate of Singaporean PMETs would have increased over the years. However, statistics from Ministry of Manpower (MOM) shows that the unemployment rate of Singaporean PMETs have remained low at 2.9% in 2014," it commented.
It is however noted that highly educated Singaporean PMETs who have been replaced by foreign ones and are driving UBER or GRAB cars these days are not considered "unemployed" by the government.