Help at hand for firms that want to be manpower-lean

In his letter (Relook foreign worker policy for F&B, May 13), Dr Ng Wee Tong urged the Government to review the foreign worker policy for the food and beverage sector.

He cited the Original Hock Lam Beef Noodles' plan to cease operations due to manpower constraints to justify his call.

The Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC) for the service sector will be reduced by 5 percentage points over two small steps of 2 percentage points and 3 percentage points next year and 2021 respectively.

The aim is to sustain the restructuring momentum and uplift local employment outcomes in the service sector, by moderating the growth in S Pass and work permit holders.

The majority of firms in the service sector, including many F&B ones, will not be affected by the reduction as they have not reached the DRC.

Based on the Ministry of Manpower's records, Hock Lam Beef Noodles is one such firm.

It has hired a small number of work permit holders over the last five years, and is not near the DRC for the service sector.

On the other hand, it has hired foreigners on Employment Passes who must meet higher salary requirements.

To attract more locals, Hock Lam Beef Noodles could review its salary offer to local employees, most of whom were paid less than $1,200 or well below the 20th percentile salary earned by resident employees.

There are schemes in place to help firms transit to more manpower-lean operating models, or improve their jobs to attract local workers.

We encourage firms to approach Workforce Singapore (WSG) for assistance.

The Career Trial programme under WSG's Adapt and Grow initiative, for example, provides salary support to employers when job seekers try out new careers or job roles.

Terence Ho

Divisional Director

Manpower Planning and Policy Division

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Help at hand for firms that want to be manpower-lean'. Print Edition | Subscribe