During the Budget discussion yesterday (March 24), Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say refused a request by MP Desmond Choo to reveal the breakdown of Employment Pass, S Pass and Work Permit Holders in the technology and IT sector. Minister Lim Swee Say circumvented the question by giving a general estimate:
“The sector employed 125,300 workers last year, and two-thirds of them are resident workers. The remaining one-third are made up of foreign work pass holders…of this one-third who are foreigners, most of them are Employment Pass holders.”
Minister Lim Swee Say dismissed worries about over-representation by foreigners in the IT sector by claiming he estimated that there are going to be 15,000 vacancies:
“IDA estimates that by 2017, another 15,000 specialists may be required, especially in growth areas such as software and application development, network and infrastructure, cyber security and data analytics.”
Singapore’s IT sector was flooded with the influx of cheap foreign professionals and resulted in depressed wages and long working hours. Many Singaporeans are astonished at the sheer number of foreign professionals, especially from India, at Changi Business Park, or which some called, Chennai Business Park. As most of these IT sector jobs are well-paying Professionals, Manager, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) jobs, many Singaporeans are frustrated at the government’s lack of effort in growing the local talent pool in IT.
Most Singaporeans who are denied a PMET job cite “lack of working experience” as a key reason for young graduates and “too senior and over-qualified” for retrenched PMETs in their 40s. Singaporean males are also discretely discriminated at with National Service liabilities when interviewed by foreign employers, as it is illegal to state NS as a reason to reject an applicant.