As Singapore nears the end of the Circuit Breaker measures, the impact that the virus has both economically and socially has been highly apparent. This does not only affect our well-being and way of life, but also business and economic confidence, as well as the ability of the Singapore government to see this through with the least impact on Singapore as an economic powerhouse.
As Immigration Consultants, we face increased concerns from existing foreign talent in Singapore (Professionals holding on to Employment Passes and S-Pass only) with regards to their job stability and likelihood of them continuing to contribute their expertise to Singapore.
This comes amidst recent reports on how organizations are trying to hold on to their foreign workforce despite cost pressures from the circuit breaker. In lieu of preserving jobs for locals and PRs, HR experts weigh in on how foreign talent could be the first to go, when push comes to shove.
So, Are Foreign Talents here to stay in Singapore post Circuit Breaker and Covid-19?
It is important to keep ourselves abreast with the latest immigration policy updates during this past few months and analyse the impact Foreign Talent have on the economy. We can establish that:
1) Foreign Talent will remain a mainstay of the economy. With 56% of non-residents falling under the Work Permit Holders and Foreign Domestic Workers category, Singapore remains reliant on this group to support the Construction and Hospitality sectors, as well as supporting families with aged dependents and young children
2) 23% of foreigners are actively contributing to the Singapore economy professionally (S-Pass and Employment Pass holders). This also includes contribution in terms of highly specialized skill-sets and knowledge where not many locals are adept in at the present time. If anything, we are looking at maintaining a resilient and diverse talent pool that complements Singapore strategic economic plans
3) Understandably, we have seen a decrease in foreign employment in the past 3 months largely due to global travel restrictions as well as companies having to adopt various cost cutting measures especially in sectors which faces challenges in employing Singaporeans such as F&B and Transportation.
4) The Singapore government has implemented foreign worker levy rebates and waivers to help companies retain these workers where possible. This further demonstrates the recognition on the importance these roles have in the overall Singapore economy and why the government is taking the necessary steps to curb further impact.
5) With the lifting of the Circuit Breaker on 1 June 2020, business are expected to ease back into operations. Globally, we will all be looking at establishing a 'new normal' of how business is being conducted, but by no means is it a halt or standstill. There will be movement, there will be progress.
In summary, the short term impact on employment especially upon Foreign Talent will be there. Employment of locals – Singaporeans and permanent residents – still grew at a "modest pace", according to preliminary data released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). In the middle to long term, Singapore will still require people from a whole spectrum of abilities to come together and come up with solutions, and that includes having a blend of both foreign and local talent that complements one another.
Foreigners seeking to truly set roots in Singapore should use this time to act decisively on whether attaining Permanent Residence and / or Citizenship works best. The assurances in having secure Permanent Residence in Singapore will invariably provide you and family with the confidence and ability to seek a livelihood here, without having to uproot yet again.
Since the Circuit Breaker measure implementation, we have been receiving increased inquiries from eligible Foreigners looking to rush their applications in. Anticipating an influx in applications once the pandemic settles, and with various uncertainties linked to industry and employment, our duty is to assist applicants in ensuring that they are best represented given the circumstance. And this is where we excel in.