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PRs took up about 17% of net new jobs created in S’pore between 2015 and 2018: Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE — Permanent Residents (PR) took up about 17 per cent of the net new jobs created in the Republic between 2015 and 2018 — higher than their overall share of the total workforce (15 per cent).

Speaking to reporters at a media briefing on the Economic Development Board’s performance for the past year, Mr Chan said that in the entire workforce, there are six Singaporeans to each PR.

Speaking to reporters at a media briefing on the Economic Development Board’s performance for the past year, Mr Chan said that in the entire workforce, there are six Singaporeans to each PR.

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SINGAPORE — Permanent Residents (PR) took up about 17 per cent of the net new jobs created in the Republic between 2015 and 2018 — higher than their overall share of the total workforce (15 per cent).  

But this is because PRs here have been “pre-selected” for their skills while the Singaporean workforce is made up of citizens from a diverse age range and skillsets, said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing on Thursday (Jan 16).

“First of all, when we talk about the entire group of Singapore citizens, (we are talking about everyone) from 20 years old to 60 plus years old. But when we talk about PRs, actually we only accept them if they have strong job opportunities,” Mr Chan said.

Speaking to reporters at a media briefing on the Economic Development Board’s performance for the past year, Mr Chan said that in the entire workforce, there are six Singaporeans to each PR.

Between 2015 and 2018, there was an overall increase in local employment of 60,000 jobs. Of these, about 50,000 were taken up by Singapore citizens and more than 9,000 went to PRs. This means that there were five new jobs that went to Singaporeans for every one that went to a PR.

Mr Chan revealed these figures after he sparred with Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh in Parliament on Monday last week over the release of such data.

Mr Chan said the “slightly stronger” employment growth for PRs should be expected. 

“Because we pre-select the PRs, it will not be surprising that in some sectors, the PR performance is just slightly better than the Singaporeans.” 

Mr Chan said Singaporeans should be worried if the reverse were true as it would mean those who become PRs are not able to find jobs, and added that the unemployment rate among Singaporeans and PRs is similar. 

Hence, there is a logical reason why PRs take up a slightly higher share in net new jobs created between 2015 and 2018, as compared to their proportion in the overall workforce, he noted. 

“So there is nothing to politicise… I know how some opportunists will want to stir and say, ‘Why is the outcome for the Singaporeans worse than the PR and worse than the foreigners?’” he said. 

During the Parliament session on Jan 6, Mr Singh had repeatedly asked for a breakdown of the overall number of new jobs that went to Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners. He also wanted to know the proportions of the different segments for various sectors. 

During the exchange, Mr Chan said in response to Mr Singh’s request that the Government does not have “anything to hide”, but did not reveal the breakdown, asking: “What is the point behind the question?”

In the same Parliament session, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad had given a breakdown of the employment growth between 2015 and 2018 across 23 economic sectors undergoing industry transformation, and how many of these jobs went to Singaporeans and PRs. 

Those figures also showed that for every five new jobs that went to a Singaporean, one was taken up by a PR — the same proportion for the overall economy as revealed by Mr Chan on Thursday.

Mr Chan also provided a breakdown on the number of jobs held by foreigners and those taken up by residents (Singaporeans and PRs). 

For every three resident workers, there is one foreign worker, which translates to a ratio of 3:1, Mr Chan said.

This is after stripping away lower-end jobs, such as construction workers and other jobs that Singaporeans typically do not take up. Including such jobs, the ratio is 2:1.  

Mr Chan pointed out that the unemployment rate among foreigners must “technically be zero”. 

“Some people say, ‘Why is the unemployment of foreigners lower than PRs and Singaporeans? It is because (the Government) don't care about Singaporeans and PRs.’ The truth of the matter is, if a foreigner is unemployed, why would we allow the foreigner to be in Singapore?” he said. 

There are some sectors where the proportion of foreigners is higher, particularly those in the fastest-growing sectors such as infocomm technology. 

“There is a global shortage of such people. That's why we can expect some sectors to have a higher foreign complement than others,” he said. 

But Mr Chan said the workforce breakdown is not a static picture. 

“The question is that, over time, are our people taking over this job as my hypothesis was presented in Parliament? And the answer is yes,” he said. 

Reiterating a point he made during a speech in Parliament, Mr Chan said that one of the trade-offs that the Government has to make, in order to ensure that future generations of Singaporeans are employable, is to bring in some investments today that might lead to foreigners being employed in higher and better-paying positions than Singaporeans.

But over time, with more jobs created and more Singaporeans being trained, locals may one day take on the top job that was once occupied by a foreigner, he added.

Related topics

Jobs Pritam Singh Chan Chun Sing Singapore citizen Permanent Resident foreign talent employment

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