The demand for Indian tech professionals doubled (13 to 26 percent) from 2005 to 2020. The rise in the number is due to the demand for tech talent but not for the “favorable treatment.”
Due to the advent of pandemic situation, Singapore’s economy was slowed down, resulting in the rise of job losses. The locals in Singapore have an impression, this situation is because of the Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) – free trade agreement signed between India and Singapore in 2005. This agreement letting Indians to get more opportunities than the locals in Singapore.
“The percentage of Indian employment pass (EP) holders were doubled in Singapore from 13 to 26 percent between 2005 to 2020,” stated Manpower Ministry Tan See Leng in the Parliament.
The increase is because of the rapid growth of Singapore’s digital economy and finance, resulting in global demand and supply of tech talent, not because Indian professionals were treated favorably.
There was a misconception that if Indian professionals do not take up the opportunity, then these positions will be offered to the Singapore locals. But the local people in Singapore have a “good Singaporean talent pool,” which is not enough to meet the needs of the employers investing in Singapore.
As every sector has been digitalized in recent times, there is a great demand for tech talent and is growing significantly. Currently, Singapore does not have enough tech professionals to fill the roles available. For instance, only in the infocomms sector, 6,000 jobs remain unfilled.
As per the analytics as of December 2020, from manpower ministry data, 1,231,500 foreign workers, including 177,000 EP holders, were present in Singapore 19 percent were in information and communications technology, 19 percent in professional services, and 15 percent in the finance sector.
The EP (employment pass) allows foreign professionals, managers, and executives to work in Singapore. In contrast, the S pass is for mid-level skilled staff, work permit for semi-skilled foreign workers in infrastructure or construction fields, manufacturing sector, services sector, marine shipyard, and work permit for foreign domestic workers.
Singapore cannot suddenly call off the foreign workers and suggest the foreign investors hire Singaporeans. This would lead to some disturbances in foreign investors, which will affect the country’s economy.
There is a misconception that most of the foreign workers are Indians, but most of the EP holders were from the U.K., India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, and China. All these countries have made two-thirds of all EP holders from 2005.
But the percentage of Indian workers in Singapore was doubled since 2005. The EP holders from China have remained relatively the same. India and China contribute the most for the tech talent globally, but the startups with USD 1 billion have recently emerged in China, leading many Chinese to work in their home country.
While a part of Indian tech professionals continues to look overseas because of having an advantage of speaking English.
Moreover, the immigration policies to Singapore are not unique. It is similar to the other countries where Indians are the second-largest source of immigrants in the U.S. and the third-largest in the U.K.
To fill the shortage of manpower in Singapore, there are many professionals worldwide, even if the workers don’t occupy the positions from India.
“Just think that they are helping our companies to flourish and grow our economy which in turn creates better Singaporean jobs,” Tan said.
Tan also acknowledged that this misconception had created social friction and anxiety among Singaporeans. But this should be understandable and act accordingly towards the transient nature of EP holders.
Most of the EP holders work for few years and return to their home countries. Few EP holders wish to settle down and become PRs (Permanent Residents) or Singapore Citizens. This is the current situation with Indians, and the same was seen with the Chinese individuals in the 2000s, whose percentage had a rise during that time.
In order to keep the Singapore economy growing, there should be an encouragement for foreign talent and skills. But this should not give rise to misconceptions between foreigners and Singaporeans. There should be a mutual understanding allowing foreigners to work and manage the social frictions from time to time.
There should be a constant balance that should be managed and monitored in the right way. Singapore’s government does monitor the concentration of nationalities in firms through the Fair Consideration Framework.
Singapore government has zero discriminatory hiring practices, and all the employers first announce the vacancies in the MyCareersFuture job portal. That means the first preference is given to the Singaporeans, and later it will pass on for hiring the foreigners for the remaining positions.
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