Photo from salary.sg

In a media statement over the shortage of local talents, Singapore’s Ministry of Health complained about not having enough local dentists and commented that less than half the new registered dentists each year are locals.

In 2014, 141 (75%) of the newly registered dentists were trained overseas. Only the remaining 46 (25%) were local graduates. Singapore’s chief dental officer from MOH said:

“With an ageing population, demand for dental services is not only increasing but also changing due to the more complex dental needs of geriatric patients.”

However, the MOH spokesperson paid lips service about increasing intake when the enrolled numbers barely changed and remain a quarter of the total yearly intake:

“To cater to a growing need for dentists, the faculty of dentistry at the National University of Singapore increased its intake from 48 in 2010 to 54 last year.”

It is unknown whether this media release is a precursor to open up the floodgate for foreign dentists.

According to MOH, foreigners now take up 20% of the total practicing dentists in Singapore due to the shortage. There are 2,200 dentists in Singapore with a population ratio of 1: 2,550. The chief operating officer of dental clinic chain Q&M said that around 25% of its hires are foreigners and that he needs the foreigners in his clinics:

“It is important to keep its Singapore identity, especially in its heartland clinics, but does need to employ foreigners “to complement and supplement our team.”

Government does not want locals tertiary educated

The Singapore government restrict the number of local degree holders in Singapore by placing high entry requirement for locals in government universities. Foreign students who could barely handle the English language are not subjected to the stringent A level General Papers taken by locals. Foreign graduates are also welcomed to apply for jobs in Singapore so as to inject businesses with an ample jobseeker supply and keeping salaries cheap.

Singaporeans are also discouraged from taking on bachelor degrees and higher studies because the government is worried net emigration rate will rise and worsen the country’s aging population. Instead, the government encourages Singaporeans to turn food stall holders in hawker centres.

In a leaked document by Wikileaks, a Ministry of Education official told the United States administration that Singapore does not want Singaporeans to have degrees:

Govt does not want more Singaporeans to have degrees[Link]
¶9. (C) Singapore boasts a highly competitive and
well-regarded primary and secondary education system, but the
number of Singaporeans completing a tertiary education is
relatively low. Only 23 percent of Singaporean students
entering primary school complete a degree at a local
four-year university. In other knowledge-economies such as
Japan’s, around 50 percent of students complete a university
degree. However, according to Cheryl Chan, Assistant
Director of the Planning Division at the Ministry of
Education (MOE), the government does not plan to encourage
more students to get a higher education. The university
enrollment rate will continue to be maintained at 20-25
percent because the Singaporean labor market does not need
everyone to get a four-year degree, she asserted.