by Lima Curtis, The Telegraph
Resentment towards expats in Singapore is at an all-time high, according to young Singaporeans, as foreign workers continue to fill jobs that locals believe should be theirs, despite a policy change in August designed to address the issue.
The new policy, called the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), requires all employers to consider Singaporeans fairly for job vacancies. They should only hire an expat if no suitable Singaporeans apply within two weeks. The rules only apply to jobs paying less than $12,000 Singapore dollars per month (about £5,850) and to companies with 25 staff or more.
The number of foreign workers in Singapore, which has a population of 5.6 million, has risen significantly in recent years, from 1,053,500 in December 2009 to 1,336,700 in June 2014 according to figures from the Manpower Ministry. Unemployment stands at just under 3 per cent.
Some residents claim the legislation designed to make sure locals are considered fairly for jobs is ineffective, and believe that expats are likely to work shorter hours and get promoted more rapidly than Singaporeans.
Tiffany Wu, a 22-year-old trainee engineer from Singapore, said: “A quarter of Singapore’s population is made up of foreign workers. This can make a country wonderful and diverse, but the expats here take all our jobs. There aren’t enough high level jobs for us all.
“The government said companies must list a job for 14 days before it goes to an expat, but they [the employers] put things in the job description that a Singaporean wouldn’t have, like a specific qualification not really taught here or experience in a small field, that we could pick up easily.
“Most Singaporeans speak at least Chinese and English and when I spent a year in Europe, these skills alone were really valued but it seems to mean nothing here. It shouldn’t be so easy for an expat to get a job here when we have the skills.”
There are plenty of entry level jobs available but Michael Chan, a 26-year-old hospitality manager from Singapore said: “What person with a degree, who has studied hard for years, wants to then get a low-paid job in a coffee shop? We want to get a graduate job, work in a bank or big company. Now the expats keep coming and there aren’t enough jobs for everyone.”
For those who do find employment, promotions are hard to secure.
Mr Chan said: “Friends who work in banking say there is a big difference between how we work and how the expats work. When they finish their work, they are done for the day. The Singaporeans will work and work until nine or 10 at night, but it is not them that get the promotion, it is the expat.”
Despite those views, an International Monetary Fund report released last month stated that the FCF could slow Singapore’s growth and hurt the economy. Government leaders have said that immigration helps Singapore sustain its economic growth and mitigate the impact of a low birth rate. In 2012, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed worry that rising anti-foreigner sentiment had hurt the city-state’s global reputation.
“I am worried by some of the nasty views which are expressed, especially online, and especially anonymously,” said Mr Lee, urging citizens to be more tolerant of foreigners.
Zac Thomas, a British mobile app entrepreneur, has lived in Singapore for a year.
He said: “Running a business is about putting the best man in the job, not fulfilling some quotas. Singapore is a great place to do business, but the people here don’t have the same level of experience in multinationals as some of the expats do.
“Maybe the universities or government should have some better training schemes, until then I’m sure the companies here are going to continue to hire from abroad if that’s going to give them the best candidate.”