At a media interview yesterday (16 Jan), Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing told reporters that of the nearly 60,000 new jobs created for the locals between 2015 and 2018, about 50,000 went to Singaporeans and more than 9,000 went to permanent residents (PRs).
This works out to about 5 Singaporeans to one PR, which is close to the local workforce ratio of 6 Singaporeans to one PR, he added.
The topic of the breakdown of jobs among Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners has been in the spotlight since WP chief Pritam Singh raised a question on the matter in Parliament about two weeks ago.
Although Chan said he would get the numbers for Pritam, he questioned Pritam’s intention behind asking for the breakdown of local work force figures.
He assured that in the sectors where the proportion of foreigners is higher, local employees are taking over these jobs over time.
He also explained why the unemployment rate among foreigners may be lower than among Singaporeans and PRs. He said, “The truth of the matter is if a foreigner is unemployed, why would we allow the foreigner in Singapore? So the unemployment rate for foreigners in Singapore must be zero,” he said.
Number of foreign PMETs increased by 32,300 from 2015 to 2018
Meanwhile, according to MOM’s foreign workforce numbers, the number of foreign PMETs on EP and S-Pass increased from 349,000 to 381,300 in the same 4 years from 2015 to 2018.
That is, there was a net increase of 32,300 of foreign PMETs from 2015 to 2018.
In any case, some of the Singaporean PMETs who have been retrenched and couldn’t get a job have resorted to driving Grab. They are, of course, not counted as unemployed but would be considered as under-employed.
A case in point is Shaun Ow, 39, who was working in the private sector for some 11 years in various industries before he was retrenched 4-5 years ago. He then tried to find a job for more than a year before giving up. He ended up driving Grab to make ends meet.
Even Singapore’s former UN Permanent Representative Professor Tommy Koh has shown concerns with regard to displaced Singaporeans ended up driving Grab.
At the Singapore Bicentennial Conference three months ago (1 Oct), Prof Koh cautioned the 4th generation PAP leaders that they should try to make Singapore a more equal society. These include looking into allegations of discriminatory hiring practices and working to make Singapore a classless society. He said, “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.”
“Remember this: It was the angry voters who helped to elect President (Donald) Trump in the United States. It was the angry voters in the United Kingdom who voted to leave the European Union,” he added.