Singapore's first National Jobs Bank Website was launched officially on 14 July 2014 with more than 50% of the 16,000 positions targeted at professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in Singapore. Set up by Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), this website seeks to enhance Singapore’s labour market transparency and facilitate job matching between employers and local job seekers. More importantly, this website is also part of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) which mandates that firms submitting Employment Pass (EP) applications (including for EP holders who are changing employers) are required to advertise their job vacancies on the National Jobs Bank from 1st August 2014.
Why The Need For Fair Consideration Framework (FCF)?
Singaporeans are becoming wary of the influx of foreign talents into Singapore labour market. A large number of our local PMEs view foreign talents as taking away their career opportunities in Singapore and they can hardly be blamed for harbouring the thought.
First and foremost, our government has not pre-determined a specific quantity restriction on employment passes, i.e. work passes for foreign professionals working in managerial, executive or specialised jobs, with a monthly salary of $3,000 and above. This has given certain employers an unspoken mandate to bring in foreigners to fill up their staff strength. We can see clearly from the table below that the total foreign PME has increased 77% from 63,000 in 2006 to 112,000 in 2010.
This is a shocking increase given only a relatively small 29% increase in total PME workforce. This means that almost one third of new PME roles created from 2006 to 2010 were filled by foreign PMEs. Our ratio of local to foreign PMEs has reduced drastically from 8.3 to 5.7.
Numerous stories of local PMETs (professionals, managers, executives, technicians) being replaced by foreigners spread like wild fire on the internet, and claims of cronyism and preferential hiring of fellow countrymen have stoked the embers of xenophobia in our otherwise multicultural island. These claims were not totally unfounded. The prevalence of foreign PMEs in the banking and information technology sectors is hard to hide under the carpet.
Last but not least, there is a rather serious situation of foreign PMEs undercutting the locals as the former are willing to do the same job for a much lower remuneration and benefits.
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), which has noticed these PME trends, had been actively lobbying since 2011 for a National Jobs Bank with a form of labour market testing (testing local labour market for candidates before hiring foreigners). Two years later in 2013, MOM finally decided to take up NTUC’s suggestions.
Hence the Fair Consideration Framework is in place to ensure that companies looking to hire Employment Pass holders must post job vacancies on the National Jobs Bank for at least 14 days and consider Singaporeans fairly, before applying for an Employment Pass with the Ministry Of Manpower. The Jobs Bank will complement existing Government efforts to provide another avenue for Singaporeans to explore and apply for job opportunities, as well as allow employers to access a larger pool of local candidates.
How Do I Use The Jobs Bank?
Join more than 4,300 employers and 12,900 individuals by accessing the Jobs Bank using your SingPass. Through the platform, you can:
- Explore job opportunities easily;
- Receive SMS or email alerts about the latest job opportunities;
- Create and upload your resumes which may be searched by employers;
- Directly apply for jobs with prospective employers and
- Access it 24/7 at your convenience.
Factors Determining the Success of the Fair Consideration Framework
With various responses to the launch of the National Jobs Bank and its role in the Fair Consideration Framework, the following factors may determine how successful this framework will be in ensuring companies give fair consideration to Singaporean jobseekers.
1. Having A National Jobs Bank That Is Easily Navigable & User-friendly
I have personally tried the login and profile creation to test the website user-friendliness and flow. Completing the profile registration was pretty easy though I wonder why many of the fields were not auto-populated since I am signing in with my SingPass. But I love the fact that the website has records of my Statement Of Attainment (SOA). Many of us have our primary, secondary and tertiary education qualifications on hand but WSQ courses will usually require some digging. The profile creation process is comparable to some of the best job search portals in town.
The job search however is not as smart. A simple keyword search comes back with rather unrelated results. This will need some improvement.
Surprised that I can actually click and view the jobs without signing in with my SingPass. No doubt, I am not able to apply for the jobs but essential information such as the hiring company and vacant position is no longer exclusive information for Singaporeans. This is one area that need to be looked at immediately.
2. Tripartite Access To Data For Qualifications Gap Analysis
Ministry Of Manpower could make jobseekers’ and jobs data available to tripartite partners such as e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) to evaluate skills gap and mismatch so that the right type of education can be made available for Singaporeans for job skills and technical knowledge which are lacking in locals.
3. Strong Initiative of Singaporeans To Up-skill & Feedback On Courses
Singaporeans should take personal interest to learn more about the available Workforce Development Agency (WDA) courses to up-skill yourself. We should also actively voice out our feedbacks to WDA and ministers if we see a lack of courses in fields which Singaporeans are losing out to foreigners.
4. Effective MOM Policing To Ensure Rogue Hirers Do Not Game The System
The Ministry Of Manpower will also be monitoring the ratio of Employment Passes vs number of Singaporeans.
However it is close to impossible for the Ministry Of Manpower to monitor and catch every occurrence of rogue behaviour. Singaporeans have to take on a more pro-active role of being the whistle-blower and lodge a complaint to TAFEP.
Existing Singaporean staff in companies should play the watchdog roles and report any discriminatory hiring practices to TAFEP.
Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment (TAFEP)
Address: 51 Bras Basah Road, #04-07, Manulife Centre Singapore 189554
Opening hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm.
Phone: +65 6838 0969
Fax: +65 6732 6849
5. Be Aware & Deter Errant Employers
Companies practicing discrimination against locals will hear from officers by the Ministry of Manpower. When that happens, the offending company will see themselves put on a blacklist and slowly find their applications for foreign talent rejected, put through public shaming or other forms of corporate torture.
Do your part for fellow Singaporeans and who knows your action may help you get a job in years to come.