Indian PE holders doubled to 26%, driven by growing digital economy, not Ceca, Politics News & Top Stories


SINGAPORE – The proportion of Employment Pass (EP) holders in India doubled to 26 percent last year, from 13 percent in 2005.

This is due to the rapid growth of Singapore’s digital economy, rather than the result of more favorable treatment for Indian PE holders due to the Singapore-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (Ceca), Labor Minister Tan See Leng told parliament on Tuesday (July 6th). ).

“As each sector seeks to be digitally enabled, their need for technological talent has increased dramatically,” he said, noting that Singapore currently does not have enough premises to fill the available jobs. In the infocomm sector alone, 6,000 positions remain vacant.

China is another major source of tech talent, he said, but the country producing many unicorns – start-ups worth at least US $ 1 billion (US $ 1.34 billion Singaporeans) – and having their own request, many Chinese professionals remain in place.

Dr Tan noted that between 2005 and last year, the proportion of PE holders from China had been relatively stable.

The main nationalities which represent about two thirds of Singapore PE holders have been constant since 2005, namely those of China, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Great Britain.

The statistics on the foreign workforce here were provided by Dr Tan in a ministerial statement.

He said the government usually does not release such detailed statistics for foreign policy reasons.

“I don’t know of any country that reports at this requested level of granularity. Nevertheless, we recognize that if the misconceptions continue to spread, despite all our attempts to address them in many other ways, even more damage will be done, ”he said.

This came after non-constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa of the Progress Singapore Party requested the nationality profile of work permit holders and their dependents from China, India. , the United States and Australia. Ms Poa had asked for more data on jobs commonly held by these same nationalities.

All Singapore work permit holders must meet the same criteria before being allowed to enter the workforce, Dr Tan stressed, adding that there is no differentiation based on the nationality.

He also noted that India, whose talent continues to look outward, is currently the largest source country for international migrants. Last year there were 18 million international migrants, 10 million more than in 2000.

The country has become the second-largest source of immigrants to the United States and the third-largest in Britain, both heavily invested in building technological capacity.

“Given our relative labor shortage, even if the workers are not from India, they will come from elsewhere,” said Dr Tan.

“The point I think we should ask ourselves is, are they helping us grow our economy and create better jobs in Singapore? The answer is yes.”

Still, it’s no surprise that the growing concentration of foreign workers has caused social friction and anxiety for Singaporeans, he noted. “In a way, it’s understandable … because these PE holders are transient.”

Aside from some who settle down and become Singapore citizens or permanent residents, most PE holders work for a few years and return home or move elsewhere, he added.

Recognizing that this is an area that needs to be constantly monitored and managed, he said Singapore experienced a similar situation in the 2000s, when the share of Chinese nationals in the foreign workforce here had increased considerably, before decreasing with the take-off of Chinese growth.

Dr Tan said the government regularly reviews and updates work pass policies.

“We need to harness talent and skills to keep our economy growing, while ensuring that the number of foreigners among us remains at a level that we are able to cope with, and to manage the social frictions that will arise. every now and then, “he added.

“This is a series of compromises. It will not be a one-off adjustment, but it will be a constant balance that we will have to constantly monitor and correct.”

Dr Tan said the government monitors the concentration of nationalities at the enterprise level. The threshold percentage of the workforce of a company of the same nationality is a criterion of the watchlist of the Fair Consideration Framework.

By placing companies on the watch list, his ministry examines whether companies have a high concentration of foreigners of one nationality, in addition to a high share of foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians compared to to their industry peers. There are currently around 400 companies on the watch list.

Today, the salary is mainly used “as a gatekeeper” to select complementary talent as it is easy to administer, but the government has explored improvements to the PE framework to ensure a strong Singaporean core, complemented by a strong workforce. diversified foreign work.

More details will be shared later, he added.

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