The Straits Times
Published on Nov 26, 2012

Tightening foreign labour where it matters


THE report ("'Elderly can replace foreign workers'"; Nov 18) quoted Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong as saying that tightening the supply of foreign workers will encourage the employment of senior citizens.

This is true only to a certain extent.

While tightening the foreign labour supply makes it easier for less-qualified seniors to find lower-end jobs, many Singaporeans entering the elderly bracket are professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

Thus, the prescription for elderly employment via the control of foreign worker supply creates a structural job mismatch for many older Singaporeans.

Working in a factory or as cleaners will not do for these better-qualified older Singaporeans. They will benefit only if the hiring of foreign PMETs is tightened.

Measures that will help are clearer policies on addressing unemployment, reducing the hiring of better-qualified foreigners to create vacancies for seniors, offering the elderly priority in jobs that tap their expertise and experience, and removing age discrimination in the job market.

Jimmy Ho