Over the recent years, there has been a few initiatives to combat discrimination against Singaporeans in the workforce. One of which is the Singapore Jobs Bank which was introduced in 2014.
To ensure that Singaporeans are fairly considered for jobs before firms hire foreigners, companies are required to advertise jobs on the national Jobs Bank for at least 14 days before they can submit an employment pass (EP) application.
Despite this initiative, I was concerned to learn that total of 500 companies have been put on the Fair Consideration Framework watch list for unfairly favouring foreigners in their hiring.
Minister for Manpower Mr. Lim Swee Say recently announced that this rule will be extended from 1 July 2018 to cover firms with at least 10 workers and for jobs paying under $15,000 a month. In the past, this was restricted to firms with 26 workers and for jobs paying under $12,000 a month.
While more firms would have to post on Jobs Bank, I am unsure this is really an effective measure against cases of some hiring managers working in Singapore sometimes favour people from their home countries, hiring them for roles in the companies that they work in.
In this post, I would be sharing some of my concerns. Feel free to add on your perspectives in the comments section below!
1) There is a loophole in the system
Firstly, employers are not required to provide any evidence that they fairly considered Singaporeans for the post. They just need to advertise on the Jobs Bank for 14 calendar days before applying for an Employment Pass.
As some commenters pointed out, there is a loop hole in the system: Employers could simply post the job there and ignore resumes, then hire the candidate that they had in mind all along.
If we are unable to prevent such a method of gaming the system, then how effective is the jobs bank really?
It is no wonder that even with Jobs Bank, the situation has seemed to worsen. In 2014, only 38 firms were being placed on the watch list for unfairly favouring foreigners in their hiring. This year, it was reported that a total of 500 firms were being placed on the watch list. Essentially the number has doubled from 250 on the list in 2017.
Till date, I do not personally know any Singaporean who has successfully gotten a job via Jobs Bank. Perhaps it could be due to my social circle as many Millennials use job portals like LinkedIn.
However, if anyone has had success with it, would you please share your experiences please so that others can learn from it?
2) The success of jobs bank has not been proven
I recalled during last year COS 2016 debate, Workers Party MP Faisal Manap asked two important questions:
- What is the actual number of Singaporeans who have successfully found jobs through the Jobs Bank in each year since its inception in 2014?
- What proportion of the overall number of postings on the Jobs Bank is this?
In his main speech main speech at the Committee of Supply 2017, Mr. Lim Swee Say replied that he did not have the statistics.
I work in the private sector and here, the success of projects and initiatives are measured based on KPIs. I am not sure how things work on Workforce Singapore but I wonder:
- If we do not have the statistics to measure the success of Jobs Banks, how do we know if it has been effective?
- If we’ve invested resources and taxpayers money in this initiative, why aren’t we measuring the project’s effectiveness and success?
I understand that former Minister of Manpower, Tan Chuan Jin shared in 2014 that
“Even when Singaporeans apply for a job that they see on the Jobs Bank, we cannot directly track this. For example, job seekers may apply through firms’ in-house HR portals”
My suggestion would be why not we ask employers who post advertisements on the Jobs Bank to let the stat board or ministry know exactly whether those positions were filled, and if so, by Singaporeans or foreigners? And if they selected the candidate based on applications from Jobs bank?
This would be a more accurate way to track each company’s compliance with the Fair Consideration Framework and Job Bank’s effectiveness.
3) It is 2018 and discrimination against Singaporean workers in their home country still persists
Finally, it really concerns me as a local PMET to note that a total of 500 companies have been put on the Fair Consideration Framework watchlist over the past two years for unfairly favouring foreigners in their hiring.
It is sad to hear that some companies have “pre-conceived ideas that local PMETs are either unable or unwilling to do the job…so, they write them off without even considering them fairly”
This “nationality bias” exists despite having the Fair Consideration Framework in place to attempt to correct this disturbing phenomenon.
The question I am really asking myself is: Is there any other country where locals are discriminated against by foreign employers in their own country?
I personally feel that it is a huge shame that we even have such a problem in the first place.
While we’ve made some progress on workers rights by extending the employment act to cover all workers, I hope that more effort and thought could be put into reducing discrimination against Singaporeans in the work place.
Ending off, I would like to clarify that while I am voicing my doubts about Jobs Bank, this does not in any way mean that I dislike foreigners.
Like many Singaporeans, I welcome foreign workers who are keen to contribute to our economy and have the right talent and skills (as long as they do not look down on locals or abuse our system to benefit their own friends). If there is anyone who leaves xenophobic comments with hate speech against foreigners on my posts, I would remove these immediately.
I do not claim to be any kind of expert in manpower policy. Rather, I am simply sharing some doubts that I have from the perspective of a 26-year-old PMET. Should you have any feedback or additional knowledge and insights about Jobs Bank, please kindly share them with me so that I can incorporate them into my article. 🙂
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