I refer to the article “IMD report: Singapore high in attracting talent but poor in developing home-grown talent” (The Singapore Daily, Nov 29).

“Ability to attract talent” drops to 15th?

It states that “In the latest ranking released by Swiss business school IMD, Singapore has slipped 5 places to 15th in its ability to attract talent.

Using 3 key factors – investment and development, appeal, and readiness, the report ranks economies in terms of how well they develop, attract and retain talent.

“Investment and development of home-grown talent” drops to 38th place?

While Singapore has ranked highly in terms of its ability to attract foreign talent, it ranked poorly in the investment and development of home-grown talent at 38th place.

Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre Arturo Bris said that while Singapore manages to attract the “very best talent from abroad, this isn’t enough to compensate for the lack of development of local talent”.

In response to media queries from the Business Times, he also noted the “paucity of public-sector investment in education” where Singapore spends 2.99% of its GDP on education, which ranks 56th in the world.

Additionally, Singapore came in 41st place for the ratio of teachers to students at the primary level and 35th place at the secondary level.”

Why do we rank so poorly “in the investment and development of home-grown talent”?

Let’s start from the very beginning of life.

In school, an undisclosed number of foreign students are given scholarships to come to Singapore to study. Advertisements to this effect have been appearing in foreign countries for decades.

Spending $400m on education for non-Singaporeans?

The estimated annual costs of giving scholarships to foreigners and permanent residents (PRs) at all levels of education up to post-graduate is about $400 million.

40% of university students non-Singaporeans?

The estimated percentage of non-Singaporean students in the local universities is about 40 per cent.

49,000 foreign jobs against only 500 jobs for locals?

When you finish studying and start to work – in the last 18 months from January 2015 to June 2016 – employment change was 49,000 foreign jobs against only 500 jobs for locals.

Negative employment change for locals for 21 months already?

Also, since in the third quarter of 2016, employment change contracted by -3,300 – does it mean now that the employment change for locals for the last 21 months to September 2016 has turned negative?

On top of this – 29,955 new PRs and 20,815 new citizens were granted last year.

How many of the “locals” jobs to Singaporeans?

So, how many of the “net increase of just 500 (local jobs) from January 2015 to June 2016 (negative job change if we look at up to September 2016?)” went to Singaporeans?

Tourist visa can look for job?

To top it off – we are probably the only developed or developing country in the world that allows foreigners to come on a tourist visa – look for a job – and stay when you find one!

Singaporeans applied 1,096,628 times for MediFund in a year?

As to “In addition, the costs of living – which the Professor described as “incredibly expensive” – was also cited as “a major concern for those working here or thinking of doing so”” – when you grow older and start to need more healthcare – despite the lower Medifund assistance in FY2015 due to several factors that “improved overall affordability of healthcare” – why is it that apparently so many more Singaporeans (Singaporeans applied 1,096,628 times for MediFund in a year) were unable to afford healthcare in subsidised Class C and B treatment?

If you are struggling or worried about the affordability of healthcare – arguably, how can you focus on developing yourself in your career?

Increase in students qualifying for financial assistance

According to the article “More getting bursaries” (Straits Times, Apr 15, 2014) – “Last year, about 50 per cent more students – 1.5 times the number five years ago – were on the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Financial Assistance Scheme compared to five years ago, said Education Ministry Heng Swee Kiat yesterday.

This is around 65,000 students.”

How many more students are on financial assistance now?

If you are worried about “education” costs – arguably, how can you focus on developing yourself in your career?

Looking at the above statistics – aren’t the odds stacked against Singaporeans when it comes to developing home grown talent?

Leong Sze Hian

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