The Ministry of Manpower’s Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) seems to be having its desired impact as more than 56,000 jobs have been listed on the National Jobs Bank, the final piece of the FCF rollout since it was announced in September 2013.
This compares to over 51,000 jobs listed on commercial site Jobstreet.com.sg and 26,000 on JobsDB. PMEs make up nearly half of Singapore’s workforce and the Ministry of Manpower has said that this will help build a “strong Singaporean core” of PMEs.
Administered by the Workforce Development Agency, the National Jobs Bank lists local job vacancies for free, and is part of the FCF’s requirement for firms looking to hire Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs), particularly those who will need an Employment Pass to work in Singapore. Companies with less than 25 staff are exempt, as are positions paying more than $12,000 a month and some high-level intra-company transfers.
The FCF is the result of intensive work and parliamentary lobby by NTUC, and is spearheaded by Mr Patrick Tay, MP in Nee Soon GRC and Director of NTUC’s PME Alignment Unit and its Legal Services Department.
The NTUC started lobbying for labour market testing in August 2011 to ensure that Singaporeans are given due consideration before employers recruit foreign PMEs. This came in the wake of Singaporeans’ feedback about hiring malpractices and the unusually large number of foreign PMEs.
In an interview with Headhunt magazine, Mr Patrick Tay said that the FCF will “result in greater transparency and more opportunities for local PMEs, and grow the Singaporean Core. This will ensure that foreign manpower will complement rather than undercut the skills of the local PME workforce.”
As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Manpower has been cracking down on firms with unfair employment practices since the FCF was announced, including ten firms who had to apologise publicly for discriminatory job ads, and another 15 this year that were barred from hiring new foreign workers.
At the end of the day, it is impossible for MOM to mandate that firms hire locals instead of foreigners for PME jobs here. The wide range of skills and factors that need to be taken into account for hiring decisions means that the hiring firm is in the best position to decide on which candidate is most suitable for the job.
We cannot realistically expect that a firm should hire a less-qualified candidate just because he is a PR or Citizen. The talent market needs to be meritocratic in order for both companies as well as individuals to become the best they can be.
Still, the FCF offers more help to firms who are open to hiring qualified Singaporeans and hinders firms who try to bypass qualified Singaporean candidates in favour of biased placement of foreigners.
NTUC’s U PME centres are ready to answer PMEs’ queries about the FCF and provide assistance to PMEs looking for a job or for advice on career progression.
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