Not enough to make firms advertise on Jobs Bank

Even before its extension to cover more firms, the rule that requires companies to advertise their jobs in the Jobs Bank for at least 14 days is already futile because employers can still ignore or reject the local applicants and proceed to hire foreigners anyway (Rules on employing foreigners to be tightened; March 6).

I experienced this with a recruitment agency that rejected my application for a Japanese-to-English translator's position at a Japanese company.

When I asked the company why I "did not fit the criteria", since the only requirement specified was proficiency in business-level English (which in my case is native-level), it replied that the company wanted only Japanese candidates.

Another encounter at a company where I had worked demonstrates how raising the qualifying salary for S Pass holders actually benefits foreigners at the expense of locals.

At a townhall meeting, locals asked the global head of department who was visiting the Singapore office why their foreign colleagues were being paid more for doing the same type of research work.

She did not mince her words when she answered: "Your Government is responsible for that."

She explained that, to perform research in certain regions, foreigners needed to be hired for their language skills, which locals did not possess, even if this meant paying whatever the qualifying salary was.

Hence, it seems that giving locals a chance to merely apply for the job does not really mean they are given a fair shot.

The rules should be improved by emulating those of Australia and the United States, which allow employers to hire a foreigner only after proving that they are unable to find a willing and able local.

Terence Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2018, with the headline 'Not enough to make firms advertise on Jobs Bank'. Print Edition | Subscribe