Category: Current Affairs
Published on Wednesday, 02 October 2013 00:00
Last Monday the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced that it was putting a "Fair Consideration Framework (FCF)" into place that could in theory, change the way job seekers find work within our little red dot.
So what does this mean to you the reader?
Well, you need to know that the new FCF is made up of new rules that require employers to consider Singaporeans fairly and hire workers based on merit before resorting to hiring Employment Pass (EP) holders. Although at the moment the language behind these rules appear to be some what vague.
You should also know that the new rules require employers to advertise PMET job vacancies on a job bank website run by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) for 14 days. After which employers will then be allowed to open the application pool up to foreigners. The idea behind this initiative is to give Singaporeans a 14 day lead ahead of foreigners in looking for jobs. This job bank is expected to launch in 2014.
However, it needs to be said that the key word regarding this situation is "new rules", which is code for this isn't a new law that legally requires employers to give fair consideration first to Singaporean job seekers. It's just a set of rules to encourage employers to consider filling their vacancies with Singaporeans first.
Which begs the next question: How will the upcoming job bank affect traditional job listing venues such as the newspapers' classifieds section or even job listing sites such as jobstreet.com? That was the one bit that was lacking within MOM's announcement and hopefully will be addressed due course.
It is laudable that the government is making a concentrated effort to level the playing field for all Singaporeans, but it seems to be missing the tree for the forest. These new rules are designed to discourage employer discrimination against Singaporeans in favour of foreigners but the framework still does nothing to address employer discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, age or gender.
Neither is the government addressing how our HR discriminatory processes came about in the first place: Our own employers historically do not champion the Singapore worker. The government's own penchant of hiring foreigners as senior management within its GLCs over Singaporeans inadvertently promoted a toxic culture within Singapore where we ourselves don't even believe in our own people or talents.
What we should be doing is to have a strategy to enable Singaporeans to be hired anywhere in the world. Let our people loose for a while, and then try to entice them back once they've tasted the glass ceilings overseas for themselves. This strategy would apply to the government as employer, GLCs, and other major Singaporean corporate employers. In other words we need to have a strategy to ensure that in the long run we don't need so many foreign PMEs while grooming our own people to be good enough to compete anywhere in the world. Not just at home.
Currently the government doesn't have such a strategy because it doesn't believe that most Singaporeans are quite up to scratch. And in actuality, it doesn't matter if Singaporeans are not really up to scratch, so long as the rest of the world buys it.
This is how America does it, despite its inferior secondary level education, the world has for a long time think that the Americans do do things better than the rest of the world. That was one of the positive things to come out of American exceptionalism.
Ultimately what could promote a real Fair Consideration Framework for Singaporeans is the creation of a Singaporean brand that makes all Singaporeans irresistible to all employers. Until then we'll just have to wait and see what kind of results the MOM proposed FCF will produce and work from there as we work towards building that Singaporean brand.