On 18 March 2022, TSMP Law Corporation associate director Nicholas Ngo was quoted in an International Employment Lawyer article on the upcoming COMPASS framework for EP and S Pass applicants set to be introduced later this year. He shared his thoughts on the rationale behind the measures, and possible impact on employment.
He said changes aim to ensure the local workforce is being fairly considered, and foreigners should not be brought in just because of preferences that hiring managers have towards certain nationalities. “Instead, where foreigners are to be brought in, it is important they can contribute to the local economy and supplement rather than supplant the local workforce.”
The upcoming changes could force a shift in the mindset of employers, Nicholas said. “Tapping into foreign workforces will now cost more and the process will take longer and be more difficult, and that would push employers to look more towards the local workforce as their first port of call if they are not already doing so.
He added “If expatriates can add value because of their specific skillset or experience, then there could be a good reason to bring them into Singapore. Firms should just be prepared to pay a higher salary for the foreigner.”
He said food and beverage sector (F&B) businesses can also expect to be impacted. “Some locals are not inclined towards working in the F&B sector on a long-term basis, so restaurant owners often have to source for overseas manpower,” explained Ngo. “They may have no choice but to raise wages as a result of the S Pass qualifying salary increasing.”
“A global shortage of tech talent, which is also seen in the relatively small local pool of professional, managerial, executive, and technical occupations in this sector, is said to be the cause of this, and the issue is exacerbated by the upcoming changes,” he said.
He shared “Hopefully this will only be for the short term, as foreigners can still train up the local workforce so that they can attain the relevant skills to fill the sector’s needs.”