New Manpower Minister says retraining locals a key focus this year but MAS wants more foreign FTs hired

In her May Day message, the soon-to-be Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said today (29 Apr) that more training programmes to retrain and redeploy workers would be the key focus for her ministry this year.

The programmes not only target those workers who are at risk of being displaced, they would also help Singaporeans take up jobs in sectors with growing manpower needs, she added.

Ms Teo will officially take over the manpower portfolio from Lim Swee Say from 1 May.

In her message, Ms Teo wrote that the real median income of Singapore residents (ie, citizens and PRs) grew at a faster rate, compared to the year before.

“Productivity gains remain uneven and not pervasive enough across all sectors. This will impact the sustainability of wage growth in the medium to long term,” she added.

“At the same time, businesses and jobs continue to be disrupted and workers are being challenged to keep pace with changing skills requirements.”

MAS MD wants more foreign PMETs at the same time

At the same time, the government appears to also want having more foreign PMETs working here.

In Jan, Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore, Ravi Menon gave a speech at an IPS conference highlighting the need for Singapore to hire more foreign PMETs.

“There is scope to improve the quality of the foreign workforce,” he said.

“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”.

He argued that there must be some flexibility in the local-to-foreigner ratio to “match economic cycles, changing circumstances and opportunities”.

Hence, it begs the crucial question – what is the point of subjecting our local PMETs through various trainings on one hand but continuing to allow companies to hire foreign PMETs on the other, depriving job opportunities for our locals?