Employment Pass numbers down for first time since 2003

The number of high-skilled foreigners on Employment Passes (EP) has fallen for the first time since 2003. There were 173,800 EP holders in December 2012, down from 175,400 a year before.

"This is likely in part due to the tighter EP framework from Jan 2012," Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin wrote in a post on the ministry's blog on Thursday. These stricter requirements included better educational qualifications and higher qualifying salaries.

Meanwhile, the number of S-Passes - meant for mid-skilled workers - went up to 142,400 from 113,900 previously.

Mr Tan noted that "some are workers who were downgraded from EP to S pass", but said the rise in S-Pass numbers is nonetheless "cause for concern" and that the Government is reviewing the S-Pass framework.

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