This speech was part of the Budget 2022 Committee of Supply Debate, and delivered on 8 March 2022.
On 7th Feb 2022, the MOM’s rebuke of prominent blogger, Leong Sze Hian’s intuitive post last Christmas on job statistics highlighted the issue of job security for Singaporeans once again. Do foreign PMETs complement Singaporeans or do they threaten to take over jobs from Singaporeans? The reality is, it is probably more of a threat, so policy intervention is needed to rebalance the job market.
This reality however is not obvious from the MOM’s job statistics. The basic problem lies in MOM’s reluctance to present the employment data in individual categories of ‘original citizen at the start of the statistical period’, ‘new citizen’ and ‘permanent resident’ (PR). Instead it has lumped all the figures into one category as ‘locals’ so we do not have a clear picture of how policies have affected each category of people.
We have previously pointed out that while the Government has insisted that the 380,000 PME jobs created for locals between 2005 to 2020 has benefited Singaporeans, that is highly unlikely. This is because more than 635,000 new citizens and PRs were added to the “locals” statistics during the same period, and most of the 380,000 job increase would have been because of them.
In other words, the composition of the locals in 2005 and those in 2020 are different, and most of the job increase is not a real increase.
Hence not enough jobs are created for the 250,000 fresh Singaporean university graduates who joined the job market from 2005 to 2020. We can estimate that there is a shortage of 100,000 to 150,000 PME jobs for Singaporeans in the last twenty years, assuming that there are only 80,000 net PME jobs created from 2005 to 2020, and not counting those who were demoted due to discrimination.
If we truly want the foreigners to complement the Singaporean Core, then MOM must ensure that the Singaporean jobs are not being threatened. MOM should spend its time tackling this problem rather than wasting time and resources trying to rebut Leong Sze Hian.