The Straits Times
Published on Dec 20, 2012

Ways to solve manpower crunch


IT IS ironic that we may have to hire foreign workers to clean foreign workers' dormitories ("Foreign labour crunch results in shortage of cleaners"; Monday).

The solution to the manpower crunch remains elusive and the tripartite bodies should examine the manpower situation and offer tenable, sustainable options.

My suggestions are:

>>Conduct a comprehensive study to determine the manpower requirements by sector, and develop a plan for sourcing for manpower that matches sector growth.

>>Analyse local sources of manpower (for example, fresh graduates, seniors, housewives and so on), and determine where each would be most suitably employed.

>>Localise professional, managerial and executive (PME) positions by granting foreigners employment passes only for positions that are unique or specific to their skill or competency requirements.

>>Cap the duration of engagement for foreign workers in the low-skilled categories.

>>Offer grants or incentives for building designs and structures that are productivity-friendly.

>>Set suitable productivity indicators for the respective sectors that would be the criteria for determining foreign worker quotas.

>>Create a multi-tiered foreign worker levy, with the levy amount ranging from high (for PME positions) to low (for jobs that are unattractive to locals).

>>Eliminate the S Pass and refine the criteria for granting Employment Passes and Work Permits to prevent employers from getting around the foreign worker restrictions.

>>Promote and support training institutions that provide a steady supply of local and foreign interns and graduates.

>>Open up the sources of labour to avoid having one nationality dominate a particular occupation or trade.

Brenton Ong