We have to remain open and will continue to welcome global talent that complement our workforce, however employers must hire in a responsible manner and commit to growing the local talent pool, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday (12 Aug).
This was addressed by MAS deputy managing director Jacqueline Loh as part of strengthening the Singapore core in financial services during her keynote speech at the SGUnited Financial Sector Jobs & Skills Fair.
Given that Singapore serves as a leading global financial centre in Asia, Ms Loh noted that one of the key points for financial sector growth is to attract more global and regional headquarter functions of the Financial Institutions (FIs) here to serve the broader Asian region.
“When that happens, it will involve FIs bringing in a diversity of talent from their global workforce to build up these new functions here, and this may cause the proportion of Singaporeans in these FIs to come under pressure,” she noted.
Ms Loh however explained that anchoring more global and regional functions in Singapore also brings along “more growth, good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans”.
“Further, it opens up possibilities for Singaporeans to tap on the international footprint of these global financial institutions to gain overseas exposure, with some taking leadership positions overseas,” she added.
By anchoring more global and regional functions here, she said employers might need to bring in foreigners “with the experience and skills that are not yet available locally”.
She continued, “Most do so responsibly, by ensuring that they concurrently build the local talent pipeline in specialist expertise and groom locals into leadership positions, even as they bring in foreigners to plug immediate capability gaps.”
Ms Loh also highlighted that building a strong pipeline of local talent is also important in supporting and sustaining a long-term build-out of financial institution in Singapore.
Hence, she urged the Singapore’s financial institutions to step up efforts by “committing good HR practices that consider Singaporeans fairly” while working out action plans to grow their pool of Singaporean professionals and leadership.
Noting that the hiring practices should be reviewed to ensure compliance with Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), Ms Loh then pointed out that the review should also look into the decision-making policies and processes for the hiring of foreign professionals.
“For example, junior or non-specialist openings should generally not be open to foreigners unless the firm has established that locals cannot fill or be trained to fill such roles,” she added.
Beyond this, the employers should actively identify and groom Singaporeans with high potential for leadership roles as well as strengthen their human resource (HR) capability, for example, by certifying their HR professionals with the Institute of Human Resource Professionals (iHRP).
As part of effort to increase the pool of local talent with Asian acumen, the International Postings (iPOST) scheme introduced by MAS back in 2013 to send their promising Singaporeans for overseas postings was enhanced this year to provide 90 per cent and 70 per cent co-funding of qualifying costs for postings to Southeast Asia and other Asia locations respectively, according to the MAS deputy managing director.
MOM placed another 47 firms with “high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities” on its FCF watchlist; mostly from financial and professional services sectors
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s earlier announcement of placing firms with “high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities” on its FCF watchlist have gained the public attention, with many questioning why the Ministry now only realised for this issue, as all the employment passes are issued and approved by them.
Due to the suspected discriminatory hiring practices, MOM said that another 47 companies have been placed on its FCF watchlist.
Of the 47 companies, 30 (64 per cent) are in the financial and professional services sectors. They include banks, fund management firms, management consulting companies, as well as firms that provide project management and engineering services.
Comparing to industry peers, the Ministry highlighted that 30 employers from the financial and professional services sectors “have a high concentration of PMETs from single nationalities” while 18 of the firms “have foreigners comprising more than half of their PMET workforce”.
Mixed reactions from netizens
Penning their comments on the Facebook page of The Straits Times which covered the MAS’s remark, the netizens expressed that it is sad that not many of the top managements in the top banks in Singapore are “true blue Singaporeans”as the “foreigners are the ones who rule the markets”.
“When the ball is in the FI court, this is what will happen,” a netizen wrote.
A netizen also said that the difference between Singaporean and Permanent Resident (PR) in the data reported by various FI should be addressed well. “The meaning of Singaporean core should mean as it is literally”.
Another netizen however made a critical comment, saying that “foreign intervention is inevitable in the future” if Singapore’s economic and financial sectors are controlled by foreign talents.
Some netizens called out the MOM and MAS to implement stricter enforcement and take concrete actions instead of “just urging, hoping or advising” the employers.
To stop the discrimination, a netizen said that it have to start from the “biggest party” to stop their propaganda of “import foreign talents as a mean replacement for low productivity in birth rate”.
A handful of netizens also asked the authorities to reveal the names of the companies and the real figure to show transparency in their actions.
Following this, Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Jeffery Khoo also took to his Facebook post, saying that the frustrations and disappointment of Singaporeans about the discrimination have been showed in their comments.
“The silver lining here is that MAS seems to be responding somewhat to recent ground sentiments. This is a good start but more has to be done, maybe stricter rules implemented or incentives, after urging fails to achieve its purpose? Let’s see,” he noted.