Will the Ministry of Manpower detail the number of new jobs filled by Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and Foreigners?

Below was the actual question filed by Workers Party MP, Mr Pritam Singh

To ask the Minister for Manpower whether the Ministry will detail the number of new jobs filled by Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners respectively for each industry covered by the Industry Transformation Maps (ITM) henceforth; and (b) whether it can provide these statistics for each ITM since the inception of the respective ITMs to date.

A quick background – What are ITMs?

To achieve maximum synergies in Singapore industry transformation over the next few years, the Government announced the S$4.5b Industry Transformation Programme at Budget 2016. The programme will integrate different restructuring efforts, taking a targeted and industry-focused approach to address issues and deepen partnerships between Government, firms, industries, trade associations and chambers.

Under the programme, there will be Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) developed for 23 industries under 6 clusters. Together, they cover over 80% of our GDP.

Source: MTI

Are the jobs created in Singapore filled by Singaporeans, Permanent Residents or Foreigners?

We can look at employment change across the 23 Industry Transformation Maps sectors from 2015, before the launch of ITMs, to 2018. Between 2015 and 2018, total employment (excluding foreign domestic workers) in these sectors grew by 19,500. This was made up of:

  1. increase in employment of Singapore Citizens (SCs) by 39,300;
  2. increase in employment of Permanent Residents (PRs) by 8,600; and
  3. decrease in employment of foreigners by 28,500.

What this means and what the actual F was Workers Party’s question in Parliament?

The Workers’ Party wanted to know specifically about the numbers breakdown for foreigners and locals for each of the ITMs. Pritam Singh asked about this at least twice in parliament and Leon Pereira followed up with a two FB posts to highlight the point that that this is about transparency and not vague numbers, so that Singaporeans could have an honest discussion.

What was the point of that question and why the question was not as innocent was it seemed?

The 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) were launched progressively from late 2016, with the majority launched only in 2018.

1 – Changes in workforce profile depend on a variety of factors which can be structural or cyclical in nature.

2 – To assess the impact of ITMs, it will be more meaningful to look at employment outcomes over the medium to longer term.

3 – In fact, most international labour market statistics are not even broken down by nationality.

Discussions about jobs and foreigners VS locals is nothing new. It was a huge election topic in 2011, one which sparked a fiery debate and was one of the factors which led to the incumbents losing the Aljunied town council as many felt that there have been out of touch with the ground.

F the politicians and the elections, what about the everyday Singaporeans?

Are everyday Singaporeans really losing out to PRs and foreigners? – Factually, the numbers provided by the Ministry of Manpower has so far been encouraging. Especially since Singaporeans have consistently worked hard to update our skills and stay relevant. Between 2015 and 2018, the training participation rate of the resident labour force aged 15 to 64 increased from 35% to 48%. From 2016 until September 2019, Workforce Singapore and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute have also helped 93,000 locals move into new jobs through the Adapt & Grow initiative.

  • Local employment grew by nearly 60,000 for the whole economy
  • 57% of locals employed are in PMET jobs – one of the highest rates in the world
  • Growth in real average monthly earnings for employed locals (3.2%per year) is higher than most advanced economies such as the US, Japan and Germany.

The PRs in our workforce have also made contributions to Singapore, both economically and socially, even though they receive lower subsidies and fewer benefits than citizens. More importantly, many PRs are family members of our fellow Singapore citizens.

Ironically, Members of the Workers’ Party themselves advocated for foreign spouses and children of Singapore citizens to be given priority for Singapore citizenship, and yet in the same breath, tried to make a point about jobs being taken away by these ‘foreigners’

So again, what is the point of the question? I’d say, F the pretentious question. At the end of the day, Singaporeans are not out of jobs right? Better jobs, more and better opportunities, and higher pay across the board IS awaiting everyone who is able to adapt and move along with times right?

Let’s not miss the forest for the trees here really.