Public service can take lead in helping Singaporeans find jobs

I read the joint letter of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) and the Manpower Ministry (MOM) with some concern (Firms adopting unfair employment practices will be placed on watchlist; March 29).

During my meeting at the MOM about the issues I raised, I specifically stated two important points.

First, the employment agency in fact acted in my interest and should not be penalised.

By being honest in revealing that the real reason was that the hiring firm wanted only Japanese candidates, the agency saved me from pointless interviews as the firm would have simply ended up rejecting me with some ostensible excuse anyway.

It is not reasonable to expect employment agencies to defy the instructions of their clients, who are actually the ones who are not prepared to consider Singaporeans for job positions on merit.

Second, my former employer explained that foreigners needed to be hired for skills that locals did not possess; this does not constitute discrimination against willing and able Singaporeans.

They also told me that they were just being truthful about having to pay foreigners more as the policy on salary eligibility criteria for work passes in effect forced them to do so.

Perhaps, while improving the rules on employing foreigners, the public service can also lead the way for private companies to help Singaporeans first.

I have applied for countless roles in the various government agencies ever since graduation but have received only one or two interviews in more than 10 years.

Terence Lim