More local PMETs retrenched in 1Q while Govt continues to ask SGs to be open to FTs

It was reported by the media today (14 Jun) that retrenchments in Singapore rose in the first quarter of this year. The manufacturing sector was the most affected.

The number of retrenched workers increased by close to 30%, from 2,510 in the last quarter of 2018 to 3,230 in the first quarter this year. Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) continued to make up most of the retrenched residents, at 69 per cent.

The rise hit mainly production and related workers from electronics, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said. Retrenchments in electronics made up 18 per cent of the figure, followed by service industries such as wholesale trade.

MOM cited that restructuring and reorganization were the main reasons for the increase in retrenchment.

Job vacancies also dropped for the first time in two years, leading economists to believe this marks a turn in the employment cycle, with the labour market turning bad. It would get harder for PMETs to find or hold on to jobs in the coming months.

The seasonally adjusted job vacancies went down from 62,300 last December to 57,100 in March this year. Citizen unemployment rate also continued to go up, from 3.1 per cent last December to 3.2 per cent in March.

Govt asks Singaporeans to be open to FTs

In any case, the government continues to import foreign PMETs non-stop into Singapore, saying that Singapore needs “talents”:

The S-Pass foreign PMETs increased the most last year by 6% from 184,400 in 2017 to 195,500 last year. S-Pass holders with a minimum salary requirement of $2,300 are much cheaper to hire by companies compared to EP holders. Undoubtedly, having more S-Pass holders in Singapore would only depress the salaries of native Singaporean PMETs.

Three months ago in March this year, Singapore’s PM candidate, Heng Swee Kiat publicly told the students at a ministerial dialogue in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) that Singaporeans need to stay open and understanding of foreigners. It would be very negative for Singaporeans to draw an exclusive circle for themselves as Singapore would then have no place in the world, he said.

As it is, Singaporean young graduates are increasingly finding no place in their own country, with news in the media reporting that more younger graduates are turning to driving Grab now to make a living.

Companies continue to prefer hiring FTs

Meanwhile, companies continue to prefer to hire foreigners if they could because foreigners on work pass are deemed to be more “obedient” and would not easily switch jobs. Foreign workers here fear that if their work pass is cancelled by the employer, they would need to leave Singapore, stopping them to earn good money and have a good career here.

Just last week, a foreign PMET posted on an expat forum asking for advice when 2 companies offered to hire him. He wanted both companies to apply EP for him so as to maximise his chance of working here but at the same time, feared that it might cause problems in the application process with MOM:

Are there no Singaporean PMETs here good enough to be hired by these 2 companies?