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Singapore’s long term work visa which would end talent crunch

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Singapore’s long term work visa which would end talent crunch


“Singapore is still a global city,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last month in a speech promising to boost the skills of the nation’s workforce.

As Singapore embraces the post-Covid era, the city-state’s leaders are busy updating rules on hiring foreign workers while lifting coronavirus restrictions, citing the hyper-competitive battle for global talent.

Steps taken by Singapore

Five-year visas and the repeal of a law against sex between men have grabbed the headlines, but Singapore has unveiled a series of measures to help it outpace other financial centers and attract talent in next-generation industries such as IT, aerospace and even the arts. 

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“Singapore is still a global city,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a speech last month in which he pledged to boost the skills of the nation’s workforce. “We cannot survive any other way.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of decisions this year to address an increasingly tight labor market while attracting international businesses to drive the city-state’s ambitions as a global financial center after a slump in the pandemic era. white collar workers from abroad. Many parts of the economy have seen wages rise this year to attract talent, raising concerns that escalating labor costs will add to headline inflation, which has hit a 14-year high, and prompt the central bank to further tighten monetary policy.

Here’s everything we know about how Singapore views the foreign worker battle and what it’s doing about it:

The Competition

Political stability, security, efficient healthcare and public transport have long been part of Singapore’s presentation to the world. But the city management claims that this is not enough.

The competition is not limited to Hong Kong: In his national holiday speech, Lee singled out Germany, which will allow some workers to enter the country before they even secure a job, and the United Kingdom, which offers special visas for graduates of the world’s top 50 universities, two of which they are in singapore. 

Then there’s Thailand, which just unveiled its own ten-year visa plan for foreign workers, and the United Arab Emirates, which will allow some expats to get work visas without being sponsored by a company.

‘Compass’ System: Education, Skills, Pay

From 2023, Singapore will introduce a points system for visa candidates that assess things like education, skills, salary and how nationality contributes to diversity in their company. The “Compass” system mimics similar programs in the UK and Canada.

In Singapore’s program, applicants need at least 40 points in six categories to be in contention, with the potential to score 0, 10 or 20 points in each. Do you have a degree from Harvard? Twenty points for you

About the hiring of locals

Singapore’s fair consideration framework is meant to ensure that local candidates get a fair chance even among firms that are looking for international hires.

Policies have been tightened as unemployment has jumped during the pandemic and the government has focused on supporting the domestic workforce. Some of these rules were relaxed last month.

Jobs must now be advertised for 14 days, down from 28 days during the peak of the pandemic. From 1 September 2023, roles with a monthly salary of at least S$22,500 will be exempt from the job advertisement requirement. This salary limit will be revised regularly. Companies with fewer than 10 employees are also exempt.

For LGBTQ+ Community

Seeking to modernize the city-state’s social framework, Prime Minister Lee announced plans to repeal a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men, but said the government would also amend the constitution to prevent marriage being defined as between a man. and a woman before being assaulted in court. The move means that this debate will ultimately be decided by Parliament.

Lee’s announcement, which is intended to be a compromise between the majority of citizens who oppose changing the traditional definition of marriage and those who push for expanded rights, leaves businesses in a difficult position when trying to hire LGBTQ+ candidates from abroad.

Most at stake for hiring managers: visa and worker eligibility for spouses of LGBTQ+ talent whose marriages are not recognized in Singapore. Government officials said they deal with these scenarios on a case-by-case basis.

Duration of Visa

In its biggest move yet, Singapore will offer a five-year work visa – the Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) pass – for those earning at least S$30,000 ($21,300) a month, a jump from the two-year passport many foreign workers have.

The new visa also allows dependent workers to seek employment and opens the door to exceptional candidates in sports, arts, science and academia who do not meet the salary criteria.

Sector favorites

Technology roles of all kinds have been heavily favored as Singapore continues to open its doors to international applicants.

The “Tech.Pass” introduced by Singapore in 2020 is still attractive to tech leaders – as long as their companies have accumulated a valuation or market value of at least $500 million. This program may be reviewed after the ONE pass and other changes come into effect, the Straits Times reported.

Singapore has not been shy about boosting its appeal to those in green energy and green finance roles, with the intention of building on its reputation as a garden city as envisioned by its founding leader Lee Kuan Yew.

Interview with Singapore’s Human Resources Minister Tan See Leng

Tan See Leng, Singapore’s Minister of Human Resources and Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, speaks during an interview in Singapore on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. At least until 2030, there is little risk of a significant decline in oil demand. products, Tan said. Meanwhile, the government is encouraging innovation in areas such as carbon capture and a shift towards more solar and tidal power in a bid to spearhead the region’s energy transition.

Asked to be more specific about the sector, Human Resources Minister Tan See Leng told Bloomberg that experts in areas such as photovoltaic cells, energy storage systems and mRNA technology would be particularly attractive. But he said he didn’t want to be too detailed because “then everyone would be going after” the same people and a bidding war could ensue.

Low Income Workers

Noticeably absent from Singapore’s latest approach to expats are incentives for those at the lower end of the income ladder. While labor shortages were widespread during the pandemic, Minister Tan said he was confident the crisis in construction, marine processing and shipyard jobs would ease in the coming months.

Similarly tight labor markets have seen lower paying roles in the leisure and hospitality and food and drink sectors in particular. But authorities have for years prioritized digital and automation solutions – outside of roles that could be filled by local staff – rather than reaching out to more low-income workers from abroad.

Cost of living

Perhaps the biggest factor for foreign workers to consider wherever they move is the cost of living.

Rent prices in Singapore rose the most in the first half of the year among 30 cities surveyed by Savills Plc., at 8.5%. Still, the city-state was only the 13th most expensive city in the world for foreigners, according to a March survey by ECA International. Hong Kong was in first place, with London, New York, Tokyo and Seoul ahead of Singapore.

Contributed by Ankit Raj Sharma

Edited by Imtiaz Ullah

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