Sunday, February 17, 2013

My view about the need for foreign workers

1. I wish to give my views about the current Government policy of giving permits for foreigners to work in Singapore. I do not use the word "foreign talent"; instead I will refer to them by the more common terms of foreigners, foreign workers or expatriates.

2. I disagree with the strategy of employing foreigners to reduce our business cost and improve competitiveness, or even to do the work that Singaporeans do not want to do.

3. I believe that there will be Singaporeans who are willing to do most kinds of work, if the pay is adequate and the working conditions are safe and satisfactory. This applies even to the more risky jobs in construction sites and ship repairs. In the developed countries, they are able to find locals who are willing to do these jobs, so why can't we?

4. When foreign workers are taken in at lower salaries to reduce business cost, there is a risk that they will displace our local workers. In this past, this was confined to the sectors considered to be risky, such as construction and ship repair, but it has now expanded  to many other sectors, including cleaning, nursing,  service jobs and even the PMETjobs.

5. The foreigners are able to accept lower salaries because their goal is to earn money to send to their families back home, where the cost of living is only a fraction of Singapore. Our locals cannot compete with the foreigners because they have to earn enough to meet the high cost of living in Singapore.

6. Our males are further handicapped by the need to go for reservist duties, which disrupt the work schedules and make them less preferred by many employers.

7. This situation in Singapore is now quite untenable. Having opened the flood gates, the Government does not know how to deal with the situation. Is there any other option? Can we rely more on local workers and less on foreign workers?

8. An economy that entirely on local workers will adjust the wages for various occupations to the appropriate level based on supply and demand. If the economy is competitive and vibrant, there will be sufficient jobs for all the locals, especially if they are well educated and highly trained.

9. Even the less educated can get employed in the jobs that suit their skills, such as cleaning and manual work. If these jobs pay adequately, they will be Singaporeans willing to do the work.  We have no shortage of locals doing cleaning, nursing and other manual work in past years.

10. We can have continue to bring in foreigners with the skills that are needed in our economy and are in short supply, including the expatriates and entrepreneurs. We should be prepared to give them permanent residency after a few years, and allow them to bring them families here.

11. If they fit into our environment, our aim is to make them into our citizens and integrate them into our society. This is similar to how we treated Malaysians in the past. We can now extend this treatment to other nationals, who have an interest to make Singapore into their home.

12.  The foreign workers should be placed on the same salary levels as the locals for the same type of work and performance, so that their cost to the employer is the same. It is all right for the Government to impose a levy to be paid by the foreign workers, if their family do not live in Singapore.

13. There is a fear that our businesses will not be competitive, if the wages are increased. This fear is largely unjustified. Wages are only one component of the total cost of doing business. The other costs, such as rents, taxes and bureaucratic costs and transaction costs can be reduced through government policy and national collaboration.

14. If Singaporeans are assured that they can get jobs that are suitable to their skills, and they can earn adequate wages to meet the cost of living, to afford a home and to save for the future, they will be willing to welcome immigrants to contribute to a better life in Singapore.

15.  We need to manage immigrants in a more holistic way. We have to access their skills and their desire to make a home in Singapore - instead of their willingness to work at lower pay to make our businesses more competitive. If they do not serve National Service, they should be expected to pay an additional tax.

16. It is possible for us to re-think about the structure of our work force, and if work towards a more sustainable model.



Kooli said...

Local nurses are given good salary, why not all local nurses join the healthcare sector?

Kooli said...

Last month, I met a construction manager at a construction site in Bangkok, he tell me:
- shortage of local construction worker
- local worker are given good pay, they still prefer other profession
- developer prefer Thais worker for their quality.
- currently, they rely heavily on foreigners from Myanmar.

Foreign worker or local workforce is a social issue - not necessarily a political issue. Social problem, social solutions

Spur said...

Local nurses given good salary? You must be joking.

In other developed countries like Australia and US, nurses with just a couple of years experience get salary of $7,000++.

Even healthcare attendants pushing wheelchairs and moving patients from beds into wheelchairs etc get salary of $3000 just for working 1/2 day part-time.

Don't believe, just go check out the official Oz govt jobs website.

I have spoken to many locally-trained nurses --- from our local polytechnics. Many have told me they fully intend to migrate to Australia, UK, US etc after 3-4 years experience in S'pore hospitals.

S'pore medical/nursing training is well respected in other 1st world countries. They accept our diploma-trained nurses, while rejecting degree nurses from countries like Philippines, Myanmar, M'sia, India, Indonesia, etc etc.

But PAP has given all those 3rd world nurses a Golden Goose, by opening the floodgates to them and calling them talents. These 3rd world nurses come to S'pore to get proper experience and accreditation, and to experiment on Sinkies. Many of them even get free sponsorship for training and post-grad diplomas. Just ask any govt hospital about this. After 3 years, most of these foreign nurses will simply wipe their backsides and go to countries like Australia and UK for the $6K-$7K salary.

Spur said...

When you make sweeping statements like "given good salary" and "given good pay" --- what exactly is the good salary, what exactly is the good pay??

What is your own salary? Is it good??

Why not you become nurse? Ask your wife and son and daughter become nurse and construction worker in S'pore. Afterall the pay is GOOD right??

Kooli said...

Kindly take time to read what other Singaporean said:

Kooli said...

Other aspect of Singapore:

'The School of the Arts in Singapore, opened in 2008, has had around 1,000 applicants for only 200 spaces each of the last three years.'

" do what they enjoy, even at much lower pay..."

yujuan said...

Heard about many of our highly trained local nurses are aiming to go abroad.
They should, one of the easiest way to migrate abroad for better pay and a more sane work/life balance.
No use staying here. Anywhere in the world we could call home, our children could breathe easier and live happier with more freedom and space abroad, anyway Singapore dun feel like home to us anymore.
Have talents or niche training in various specialized fields, better join the quitter brigade. And the parents could join them later.
Dun wan our children to live in a from first world to third world country, that is Singapore in the near future.
Can't beat the filthy rich and the powerful Elites, may as well try our luck elsewhere.

michael13 said...

Singapore is fast becoming a place where the filthy rich and the powerful Elites multiple their wealth easily in less than a decade. Despite several round of property cooling measures, the new private home sales jumped by 43% in January, 2013.

The defeated PAP candidate for Punggol East SMC(by election), Mr Koh Poh Koon admitted that nowadays, in Singapore, there is no level playing field for the poor/average Singaporean parents to compete with the Riches for Pre-School Education(sky-high tuition fees) so that their kids can start on equal-footing when entering Primary One Education in terms of training and knowledge acquisition.

The meritocracy is NO MORE a principle that we used to promote and to protect at all costs.

Kooli said...

America nurse said: "I can't find nursing job" (Source:CNN Money)

Kindly click this link:

I am a subsidsed patient at KTPH Eye Clinic. My consultant is an American. Why?

For 99% American Population, their average annual income is US$42k
(Source: USA Today, access 19/2/2013)

Early 1990s, Australia econ was not doing good. TTSH had a few Aust

Kooli said...

'Those in America's bottom 99% had an average income of $42,826 in 2011.'

'The bottom 99% have seen their earnings drop a more modest 12% from their peak four years ago, but their income continued slipping....'

Spur said...

Kooli, you don't have any firsthand experience with the nursing industry. But simply base on anecdotal hardship cases quoted in MSM which are designed to sell and tug at emotions.

Problem with fresh grads in US is that companies are looking for experience (not just nursing, but ALL other professions). The older workers are hanging on to their jobs in order to re-build their retirement savings after the housing crash and financial crash. US labour laws are still much better than S'pore, which means companies cannot simply fire older workers and get cheaper younger freshies like in S'pore.

The other problems with those US fresh nurses is that they mostly just get "Associate Degree" (even less rigorous than S'pore nursing diploma) instead of full "Bachelor Degree". AD+no experience=no job.

Moreover, those young US grads are not willing to take on other types of nursing jobs for the time being, such as in rural communities, nursing homes, military postings, etc. Instead they insist on waiting for big hospital openings in big cities, where the starting pay is US$4K per month.

If you have just a few years major hospital nursing experience (3-5 yrs), US will grab you. That's why you see tons of Filipino nurses from S'pore every year going to US after chalking up 3 yrs experience experimenting on Sinkies.

BTW your writing about average US salary etc is meaningless. US$43K is average salary of ALL jobs including road sweeper, toilet cleaner, waitress.

The median wage in 2011 for US nurse as reported by US govt is US$66K. However the salary range can be from US$45K to US$100K. It depends on where you work, and how many hours. I know an overseas nurse who works only 3 days a week in a community hospital in a town of less than 300,000 people. Her salary is less than US$40K a year, but on a per hour basis, her salary is better than many so-called PMETs in S'pore.

I have an aunt in Australia. She migrated there in the 1980s as a nurse. Her last drawn pay as nursing manager was A$8+K a month, and she was just working 35 hrs a week. Now she is happily retired with both state and national pensions.

Another younger cousin of mine recently migrated to Australia in 2012. She had multiple offers from Oz hospitals with salaries of over A$5K a month. She has a S'pore nursing diploma and was working in a general hospital here for 4 years. And BTW her A$5+K salary is below average becoz she doesn't have a degree. She fully intends to perform well and get sponsorship from her Oz hospital for a nursing degree.

At the end of the day, you can judge and tell a society by how different they treat their people simply based on jobs or qualifications or school exams. Easy to tell by the Gini coefficient, how big the gap between the bottom 10% workers and top 10% workers. Sure, there are plenty of multi-million-dollar banksters in Sydney and redneck miners in Western Oz, but you won't find a $700 cleaner or dishwasher in Australia, while this is considered normal in S'pore.

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