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Why can’t National Jobs Bank statistics be disclosed in light of public interest?

The Government should follow the online falsehoods’ committee’s recommendation to give reasons for decisions not to disclose information to the public, in order to gain the public’s trust?

I refer to the article “Can’t unemployed or underemployed S’poreans take up jobs done by any of 372,100 foreign PMETs here?‘ (theonlinecitizen, Jun 27).

It states that “Last week, ST reader Tan Soon Hock wrote to ST Forum asking if the government schemes are enough to help Singaporeans with their employment (‘Are schemes enough to help S’poreans with employment?‘, 21 Jun)."

Mr Tan was concerned when he read the MOM report that the unemployment rate for Singaporeans is currently at 3 per cent but when permanent residents were also counted, the figure drops to 2.8 per cent.

It seems that the unemployment rate among PRs is lower than among citizens,” Mr Tan observed. “Why is this so?"

He then went on to ask how are the government schemes like the Fair Consideration Framework, SkillsFuture training courses and job fairs helping Singaporeans.

As to “How effective are these in helping Singaporeans secure employment?” he asked” – the best answer is to give the statistics as to how many of the jobs posted in the National Jobs Bank actually went to Singaporeans?

However, since this has never been disclosed, despite persistent calls for its disclosure.

So, what can we do?

Well, we can look at the unemployment rate and foreign PMETs’ statistics, since the launch of the National Jobs Bank in 2014.

372,100 foreign PMETs currently working in Singapore

With regard to “But he also noticed MOM statistics showing that at the end of last year, there were 372,100 foreign PMETs holding the Employment Pass and S Pass working in Singapore.

And there were also 30,700 foreign holders of other work passes, which comprise Letters of Consent, Training Work Permits and Training Employment Passes, he added.

“One cannot help but notice the exponential rate of increase of other work pass holders – up from 9,300 in December 2012,” he quipped” – the total number of employment pass, S-pass and other work passes increased by 10.5% from  364,400 in December 2014 to 402,800 in December 2017.

In respect of “Note that Letters of Consent are actually a form of Employment Pass allowing the spouse of an Employment Pass holder to work in Singapore too. In other countries like in the US, spouse of a person on H1B visa (equivalent to Singapore’s EP) is not allowed to work. But the Singapore government, on the other hand, has been quite kind to even the spouses of foreigners, allowing them to work here.

In any case, Mr Tan posed an interesting question – can’t those jobs from foreigners on “other work pass” be taken over by those unemployed Singaporeans?

He asked, “Singaporeans are continuously told of the need to upgrade and upskill for the future. Can’t they take up the jobs covered under the other work passes? What more must we do to help Singaporeans secure employment?”

In this regard, perhaps the question should be expanded to ask – can’t those unemployed or underemployed Singaporeans, especially those Singaporean PMETs driving Grab currently, take up the jobs done by any of the 372,100 foreign PMETs?” – the annual average unemployment rate of Singaporeans has been increasing gradually from 2.9% in 2014 to 3.3% in 2017.

So, in summary, the above foreign worker jobs and Singaporean unemployment rate statistics may arguably be the best answer to all the propaganda and rhetoric in the media that foreign employment is being tightened and the ‘thousand and one ways’ that Singaporean PMETs are being helped.

By the way, why don’t we simply disclose the National Jobs Bank statistics because isn’t this arguably, in the public interest, and in line with the Deliberate Online Falsehoods’ committee’s recommendation that the Government should give the reasons for decisions not to disclose information to the public, and to gain the public’s trust?