French Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud (left) and Singaporean Manpower Minister Josephine Teo (right)

France to start setting quotas on foreign skilled workers while S’pore says no quota for EP holders

Last Tues (5 Nov), Reuters reported that France will soon start to implement tough policies to control immigration.

For the first time, France will set quotas for the number of immigrant workers from outside the EU it allows into the country, French Labour Minister Muriel Penicaud said last week.

Speaking on French TV, the minister said these quotas would be set next year, adding the government would draw up a list of relevant professions to be covered by the quotas.

With mounting voices from French citizens demanding its government to do something about its laxed immigration policy especially with regard to immigrant workers from outside EU, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe relented and said last month that he was not opposed to introducing quotas for migrant workers.

“Our priority is to help the French return to the job market. Then it is to welcome the refugees and enable them to find a job”, French Labour Minister said. In other words, the French government will now put the interests of its citizens first.

“If there is still a need, for the benefit of the country and that of the companies, we will bring in the people we need, depending on their profession and their qualification,” he added.

Part of the new policy would involve the parliament setting an annual sectoral “goals or quotas” on skilled migration from non-EU countries, similar to the systems in place in Canada and Australia. The quotas will be based on a list of professions in which employers would be exempted from having to prove that the job cannot be filled by a French person.

In a interview in Sep, French President Macron said, “France cannot host everyone if it wants to host people well.”

“In order to be able to welcome everyone properly, we should not be too attractive a country,” he added.

BBC also reported the French Labour Minister saying on last Tuesday that France had to recruit according to its needs and that quotas would be decided annually, with help from regional governments, job centres and social partners. The current number of migrant workers being offered visas is 33,000.

“We welcome [migrant workers] now, but not necessarily in jobs that are stretched. Conversely there are some jobs that are stretched which cannot be filled,” she said.

The quotas will not take into account specific countries and migrant workers will be given a visa for a specific period and a specific job.

No quota or levy for foreigners on Employment Pass in Singapore

Meanwhile, the Singapore government continues to take in foreign PMETs freely with no quota imposed. According to the website of Manpower Ministry, no foreign worker levy or quota required for foreigners on Employment Pass:

The government said Singapore needs “foreign talents”. Last year, Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore, Ravi Menon gave a speech at an IPS conference saying that in view of Singapore’s low birthrate, Singapore needs to hire more foreign PMETs. “There is scope to improve the quality of the foreign workforce,” he said.

“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”.

The foreign workforce in Singapore as of June this year is 1,143,800 (not inclusive of the foreign domestic workers)

4G leaders asked to make Singapore a more equal society

With more job competitions with foreign PMETs, more displaced Singaporean PMETs are turning to driving Grab to survive.

In fact, last month at the Singapore Bicentennial Conference, former Singapore’s UN Permanent Representative Professor Tommy Koh asked the 4th generation PAP leaders to make Singapore a more equal society (‘Prof Koh tells 4G leaders: We don’t want more S’poreans to become Grab drivers and angry voters‘).

These include looking into allegations of discriminatory hiring practices and working to make Singapore a classless society. He said, “Today, Singapore is not a classless society. We are divided by wealth, by income, by profession, by place of residence, and even by the school we attend.”

He hopes the 4G leaders will help establish a more caring and inclusive society in Singapore, with employers and the Government stepping in to help those who will be laid off as the economy restructures.

“We should not abandon the displaced workers because we don’t want more and more Singaporeans to become Grab drivers or, worse, to join the ranks of the angry voters,” he said.


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