Singapore

Most new jobs went to Singaporeans: Chan Chun Sing

In a first, Minister reveals breakdown of employment figures from 2015 to 2018

About 83 per cent of the 60,000 new jobs created for the local workforce between 2015 to 2018 went to Singaporeans and the rest to permanent residents.

Providing a breakdown for the first time yesterday, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said about 50,000 of the jobs created in that period went to Singapore citizens and more than 9,000 to PRs. This means there were five new jobs that went to Singaporeans for every one that went to a PR.

The proportion of PRs in new jobs is slightly higher than that of PRs in the local workforce, which is about six Singaporeans to one PR.

Mr Chan said the "slightly stronger" employment growth for PRs should be expected as they have been "pre-selected".

A spotlight was cast on the breakdown of Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners in the workforce after Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh asked for figures in Parliament earlier this month.

Replying, Mr Chan said the Government does not have "anything to hide". But he questioned Mr Singh's intentions.

Yesterday at an interview on his ministry's year-in-review and outlook for 2020, Mr Chan said: "I know it's easy to politicise (the breakdown of local employment figures) and say, why is the PR performance slightly stronger than the Singapore citizen performance."

Mr Chan noted the PRs who come in are those with "strong job opportunities".

"Because we pre-select the PRs, it would not be surprising that in some sectors, the PR performance is just slightly better than the Singaporeans."

Citing "opportunists" who claim the Government does not care about Singaporeans and point to the lower unemployment rate of foreigners, he said: "The truth of the matter is, if a foreigner is unemployed, why would we want (him) to be in Singapore? So the unemployment rate for foreigners in Singapore must be zero."

On the number of jobs held by Singaporeans and PRs versus foreigners, he said the proportion is three resident workers to around one foreign worker. This excludes jobs such as construction workers, which Singaporeans typically do not take up.

He said there would be more foreigners in the fastest growing sectors such as information and communications technology, which experience a worldwide shortage of skilled workers.

Reiterating a point he made in Parliament earlier this month, he said this is not a static picture and the important question is whether Singaporeans are taking over such jobs over time.

"The answer is yes," he said, pointing to the graduate employment survey released on Tuesday that showed polytechnic graduates last year had better job prospects than their seniors and got slightly higher salaries.

"You will see that many of our graduates go into these jobs. This means that progressively, our people are taking over these higher paying and better jobs, even though today the local (to foreigner) ratio may be lower than three-to-one."

In figures released yesterday, the Economic Development Board expects 32,814 jobs will stem from the $15.2 billion of investment commitments made here last year.

Mr Chan gave the assurance that most of the jobs coming on-stream in the next three to five years will go to Singaporeans.

Employment