Manpower crunch will likely ease in coming months as more foreign workers enter Singapore: Tan See Leng
- More foreign workers are set to enter Singapore as borders reopen, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng
- About 5,200 short-term Covid-19 workers will be looking for new jobs when their contracts end over the coming months
- Employers who are short of manpower over this period should consider hiring such workers, Dr Tan said
SINGAPORE — Manpower shortages that have plagued some sectors will likely ease in the coming months with more foreign workers entering Singapore as borders reopen, while about 5,200 short-term Covid-19 workers will soon be looking for new jobs when their contracts end.
These 5,200 workers are part of the 6,400 employed in short-term Covid-19 positions by the public sector, government-funded institutions and medical service providers. The other 1,200 workers will be redeployed into longer term roles as Singapore inches out of the pandemic.
Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said this in Parliament on Monday (May 9), in response to questions by various Members of Parliament (MPs) on whether foreign labour policies will be relaxed amid the manpower crunch, as well as plans to assist short-term Covid-19 workers into new jobs.
Dr Tan reassured businesses facing manpower shortages that borders have largely reopened, and that they will be able to bring in foreign workers in the months ahead.
He noted that a "significant part" of this manpower crunch is "due to the impact of Covid", which meant that the non-resident workforce here declined sharply as businesses were battered by the pandemic.
"However, while demand is recovering, all the restrictions have dampened the regular inflow of foreign manpower," said Dr Tan.
"The Government has taken steps to resume the inflow of foreign workers to ease the manpower crunch, and we progressively lifted border restrictions from late last year."
He added that non-resident employment growth had increased for the first time in two years in the fourth quarter last year, and picked up pace in the first quarter of 2022.
"Businesses now have fuller confidence to bring their work pass holders into Singapore, and the recent opening of the Singapore-Malaysia land border should further ease the labour market tightness in the months to come," he added.
Dr Tan said that businesses who may be facing manpower shortages during this period can consider workers who had recently left their Covid-19 roles.
"I'm encouraged to see that many businesses have been able to build up their local workforce to meet their manpower needs," said Dr Tan.
He noted that overall, resident employment grew by 71,300 in 2021, and the resident unemployment rate has since recovered to pre-Covid levels.
However, he added that there "continues to be opportunities to hire more local workers".
"First, employers should look to hire workers in short-term Covid-19 roles such as safe-distancing ambassadors and vaccination centre workers," he said.
For the 5,200 of these workers looking for now jobs, Dr Tan said that Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute will be providing "employment facilitation support". Employers who are interested in considering these workers can reach out to these agencies.
"Many of these workers came from food and beverage and retail sectors, and will thus possess the relevant skillsets as well as experience," he said.
Dr Tan also encouraged companies to consider hiring trainees from the various attachment and training programmes under the SG United Jobs and Skills Package.
As of February this year, there were 9,800 trainees who were still undergoing such programmes.
"They, too, will be looking for jobs in the near future," said Dr Tan. He said the authorities will be working with sector agencies to place these trainees into suitable roles.
These will be roles "which make use of the industry-relevant skills and experience gained through the programme", he said.