I refer to the article “Growth in employment of local PMETs has become fairer, more balanced: Lim Swee Say” (Straits Times, Sep 29).

It states that “Singapore’s approach of treating fair employers differently from those with unfair hiring practices has boosted the number of local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) here over the past three years, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Friday (Sept 29).

From 2014 to 2016, the employment of local PMETs grew by 105,000, which was six times more than the growth in employment of Employment Pass (EP) holders of 17,000, he said.”

How many of the “local PMETs grew by 105,000” were Singaporeans?

In this connection – according to “Population in Brief 2017” – 90,859 new permanent residents (PRs) and 58,828 new citizens were granted from 2014 to 2016.

So, how many of the “local PMETs grew by 105,000” were true-blue Singaporeans?

Including S Pass holders, the number of foreign PMETs here grew by 36,000 over that period.

This means local residents made up three-quarters of overall PMET employment growth in those years, a reversal from the trend in 2011 to 2013, when the growth of EP and S Pass holders was higher than that of local PMETs, said Mr Lim.

He was speaking at an award dinner by the Institute of Banking and Finance Singapore, where he held up the finance sector as a major contributor to economic growth and job creation – with a healthy local share of PMET jobs.

More than eight in 10 of PMET positions in the sector are filled by locals, Mr Lim said.

“Economic growth without local employment growth will lead to social tension and increased social divide. Likewise, local employment growth without economic growth will lead to economic stagnation and decline,” he said.

With regard to “This is why the ministry has placed about 300 companies which unfairly favour foreigners in their hiring practices on its watchlist under the Fair Consideration Framework, and subjects their EP applications to closer scrutiny, while processing the applications of fair companies normally, he said” – why can’t the statistics on how many of the jobs in the Fair Consideration Framework that actually went to Singaporeans, be revealed?

The framework was introduced in 2014 and enhanced in 2016. The EP qualifying criteria was also raised three times in the past five years, most recently earlier this year.

Looking ahead, there are three areas for improvement, he said, addressing about 450 banking and finance professionals at the event at Raffles City Convention Centre.

Firstly, beyond creating more jobs, the quality of job growth must be improved by embracing technology so that Singapore remains competitive.

As to “Employment growth of less than 10,000 last year is too low; the target is growth of 25,000 to 40,000 a year, he said, adding that technology can create good jobs while making work easier, safer and smarter for all workers” – since 31,050 new permanent residents (PRs) (a 10-year high) and 20,589 new citizens (also a 10-year high ) were granted last year – how many of the “Employment growth of less than 10,000 last year” went to true-blue Singaporeans?

In respect “Among the local arms of global banks, locals can make up as many as 90 per cent of PMET workers.

And for their regional and global arms that could have been situated elsewhere, but are located in Singapore, locals make up about 65 per cent of the PMETs employed, he said” – why do we keep talking about “locals”, instead of breaking down the statistics into PRs and Singaporeans?

Mr Lim said the Manpower Ministry (MOM) strives to strike a balance between being pro-business and pro-worker in the face of Singapore’s demographic trends and slowing local workforce growth.

Leong Sze Hian

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