Most foreigners in future will be here on work permits, to support Singaporeans

MOST non-resident foreigners in future will be on work permits and do jobs and provide services that Singaporeans need but do not want to do themselves, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament on Monday.

Addressing the House at the opening of the debate on the White Paper on Population, he emphasised that these foreigners - who will make up over 40 per cent of the expected population in 2030 - are necessary to support Singaporeans' needs.

"For example, we expect to need significantly more healthcare, eldercare and domestic services workers to support our ageing population and working families," said Mr Teo, who oversees population matters.

"They build our homes, rail lines and roads, and clean our housing estates. They thus enable Singaporeans to enjoy good social and municipal services while moderating the cost of these services, contribute to our quality of life, and allow more Singaporeans to be in the workforce."

As citizens become better-educated, they will have higher job aspirations, and foreign work pass holders will be needed to fill up more lower-skilled jobs, he added.

The number of Singaporeans in lower-skilled jobs is predicted to fall by 200,000 by 2030.

Responding to concerns that the Government is pro-foreigner, Mr Teo said the number of foreign workers will be controlled and the overall growth rate in their inflow "significantly reduced" in the coming years.

"Industries currently dependent on foreign workers will have to learn to do more with less," he said.

Those on work passes are also in Singapore during their productive years and return to home countries after working here.

"Hence they help boost our ratio of working persons to retirees, but do not add to our retiree population. We are also able to adjust the numbers and types of foreign workers flexibly, depending on our changing needs," Mr Teo added.

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