New scheme to help SMEs hire more foreigners

According to the Straits Times news report “New scheme offers SMEs flexibility in retaining and hiring foreign workers” (Aug 19) – “The Manpower Ministry (MOM) will allow some companies to temporarily retain more of their better-skilled foreign workers as long as they commit to cutting their overall foreign workforce numbers eventually.

Some may even be allowed to hire foreign experts – who will not count on the foreign workers quota – to train local staff.

Under the two-year pilot project, announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Wednesday, companies will get more flexibility in how they hire and retain their foreign workers for up to three years.”

Curtailing influx of foreign workers?

Instead of curtailing the huge influx of foreign workers – we now seem to be introducing a scheme to help companies hire even more foreign workers.

What kind of logic is this? Allow companies to hire and retain more foreign workers now – as long as they promise to employ more locals relative to foreigners in the future?

More relaxed foreign worker policies?

Does this mean that the foreign worker quotas and renewal policies will be relaxed for companies on this new scheme?

Also, since there are currently no limits to foreigners on employment passes in a company, i.e. 100 per cent of the workforce can be employment pass holders – why allow foreign experts to train workers under this new scheme?

Does it mean that the criteria for “foreign experts” may be even more liberal?

Increase of 302,200 foreign workers 

In this connection, according to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) web site – the total foreign workforce increased by 302,200 or 32.2 per cent, from 857,400 in 2009 to 1,133,200 in 2014.

Increase in new PRs, new citizens & dependent pass

In addition to the growth in foreign workers – on the average in a year – there were

… 43,852 new PRs granted

(348,654 new PRs granted from 2007 to 2014)

… 19,240 new citizens granted

(153,923 new citizens granted from 2007 to 2014)

… 35,000 Dependent Pass (DPs) and Long-term Visit Pass (LTVPs)

issued to dependents of foreign workers on Employment Passes (EP) (from 2005 to 2010)

Win battles lose war

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