SINGAPORE - A manpower policy that advocates hiring "Singaporeans first" will not benefit the economy in the long term, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor in Parliament on Tuesday.
Such a policy might result in employers feeling "constrained and unable to hire the best person for the job", she added.
That could ultimately hurt Singaporeans, if companies' manpower needs are unmet and they eventually decide to move out of the country.
"We are in fact putting the interests of Singaporeans first when we say that we want to grow the economy and job opportunities. But we need to be practical about how we go about doing it," said Dr Khor.
Compelling employers to hire local professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) who might not have the right skills is likely to "introduce significant labour market rigidity", she added.
Instead, the Government's approach has been to maintain a level playing field, and help equip Singaporeans with the skills they need to fill "quality jobs".
Dr Khor was responding to West Coast GRC MP Foo Mee Har, who on Monday said manpower policies for PMEs should move from a "defensive, anti-discrimination position" to one where the hiring and development of Singaporeans is actively promoted and championed.