Singapore unveils long-term work visas to end talent crisis

The rule change will help Singapore better compete with rival business hubs

Singapore is overhauling visa rules to attract foreign workers and ease a tight labor market that is contributing to wage and price pressures.

The new rules will allow foreigners earning a minimum of S$30,000 ($21,431) per month to secure a five-year work pass, with a provision allowing their dependents to apply for work, according to the Ministry of Manpower. Exceptional candidates in sports, arts, science and academia who do not meet the salary criteria are also eligible for the long-term visa under the so-called Overseas Networks and Expertise (ONE) passport which comes into force on 1 January.

“Both businesses and talent are looking for safe and stable places to invest, live and work. Singapore is such a place,” Manpower Minister Tan See Leng told reporters on Monday. “It is therefore timely to seize this opportunity to cement Singapore’s position as a global hub for talent.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of decisions this year meant to address a continued tight labor market, as well as attract international business to drive the city-state’s ambitions as a global financial hub, after a pandemic-era slowdown. civil servants from abroad. Many parts of the economy have seen wage increases this year to lure talent, raising fears that escalating labor costs will contribute to headline inflation that has hit a 14-year high and force the central bank to further tighten monetary policy.

Effective September 1 next year, Singapore plans to exempt jobs comparable to those held by the top 10% of Employment Pass holders from the need to advertise locally before hiring foreigners under a system called the Fair Consideration Framework. The duration of FCF advertisements, where applicable, will be halved to 14 days, the ministry said, adding that the processing time for all EP applications will be cut to 10 working days from the current maximum of three weeks.

The rule change will help the city-state better compete with rival business hubs such as Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates and catch up with Australia and the UK, which have similar global talent visas. More than 700 finance professionals moved to Singapore from Hong Kong last year, according to recruitment firm Robert Walters.

The UAE this year made it easier for foreigners to work without being sponsored by an employer, as well as switching to a Saturday-Sunday weekend to align the country with global markets as it seeks to win more business, with Dubai positioning itself as a crypto. hub.

Singapore unveils long-term work visas to end talent crisis

Singapore has had to contend with particularly challenging labor market dilemmas as the nation lives with Covid and the need to recharge sectors such as hospitality and food and beverage that suffered disproportionately from social mobility restrictions that have ultimately been all but cancelled.

A key gauge measuring the imbalance between demand and supply of workers rose earlier this year to its highest level since 1998. This trend is a risk to productivity in the economy, which officials expect will grow by 3%-4% this year, narrower than the 3 -5% that has been seen before – a pace that will be among the slowest in Southeast Asia.


The country is witnessing an easing of the tightness in the labor market, Minister Tan said, adding that the job offer in manufacturing and construction, among other things, has returned almost to pre-Covid levels.

The problems are at the high end of the income ladder – where Singapore wants to attract top global talent, particularly in next-generation, tech-heavy industries – as well as at the low end. The government raised criticism during the pandemic that treatment and wider policies for migrant workers primarily employed in the construction industry needed a reboot.

“This is an age where talent makes all the difference to a nation’s success,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day speech on August 21. “We need to focus on attracting and retaining top talent, just as we focus on attracting and retaining investment.”

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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