Foreign workers stop coming to Singapore.

Posted in the Singapore Forum

1 - 7 of 7 Comments Last updated Mar 26, 2014

Singapore, Singapore

#1 Jul 10, 2013
Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012
The Business Times

S'pore magnet losing its foreign worker pull

By Cai HaoXiang

SINGAPORE - Even without the policy moves to curb inflows, the supply of blue-collar foreign workers in Singapore could be drying up. Low wages, the high cost of living here, and better prospects in the workers' home countries have all played a part in this trend.

Companies across various sectors like retail, food and beverage, and manufacturing told The Business Times they are having trouble finding workers from Malaysia, a traditional source country, to fill low-end positions.

In construction, Malaysian unskilled labour stopped coming five to 10 years ago. But in recent years it has been harder to find Thai, mainland Chinese, and even Indian workers.

Malaysia is a traditionally big source of bilingual workers, who apply for jobs here directly by reading newspaper advertisements, bypassing most employment agencies. Employers face fewer restrictions in hiring them.

But in recent years the flow from the Malaysian tap has slowed to a drip, due to a booming economy across the Causeway combined with the rising cost of living here.

Ho Mei Leng, a human resources assistant at manufacturer Li Chuan Food Products, said there are 20 Malaysian workers among the company's 135 employees now, down from 40 a few years ago. "Maybe living standards there are higher now," she said.

Malaysia's economy grew 7.2 per cent in 2010 and 5.1 per cent last year. The unemployment rate was a seasonally adjusted 2.9 per cent in February this year.

Inflation is expected to moderate to between 2.5 and 3 per cent this year from 3.2 per cent last year. A monthly minimum wage of 800 to 900 ringgit (about S$350) could be introduced on May 1. But in Singapore, the higher costs of owning a car and steeper rents pushed inflation up to a three-year high of 5.2 per cent last year.

Those staying further away from Singapore may not find it as attractive to come here for work any more, said Dr Moh Chong Tau, deputy president of the Singapore Manufacturers' Federation.

"Those around the Johor area still prefer to come to Singapore as it is just half an hour away. But further up north, like Selangor onwards, it will be difficult to draw them down as housing is costly," he said.

The Ministry of Manpower does not publish statistics on the breakdown of the blue-collar workforce by nationality. But the growth of Work Permit holders in the workforce has slowed in recent years. There were 680,000 Work Permit holders at the end of 2008, dropping to 660,000 in 2009.

Their numbers rose to 670,000 in 2010, and 702,000 in 2011 - a less than 5 per cent increase from 2010 to 2011.

By contrast, S Pass holders increased from 98,000 in 2010 to 113,000 in 2011 - up 15 per cent. And Employment Pass holders increased from 142,000 to 176,000, or 24 per cent.

Singapore Business Federation chief operating officer Victor Tay noted that the influx of Malaysians was reduced significantly a few years ago.

Businesses then turned to mainland Chinese workers, he said. But China is also rapidly industrialising and supply is diminishing. "Our requirements for Chinese workers are also higher. There are quotas and they need to be competent in English."


Singapore, Singapore

#2 Jul 10, 2013
Not all companies face the Malaysian and Chinese crunch.

Bus company SBS Transit currently has more than 5,300 bus drivers, of whom only 61 per cent are Singaporeans and permanent residents. Some 26 per cent are Malaysians, and the rest are from China. The company has not seen a drop in the number of Malaysians or PRC Chinese applying for the job. But wage costs are going up. From next month, the company is giving a $225 pay rise to Singaporean bus drivers, and $75 to $150 for non-Singaporeans.

Senior vice-president of corporate communications Tammy Tan said new Singaporean bus drivers will now earn $1,600 a month, and up to $2,250 with allowances and overtime.

Association of Employment Agencies president K Jayprema said employers find it difficult to hire blue-collar foreigners because they refuse to pay higher wages.

"A lot of construction employers still want to pay just $18 a day for an unskilled worker.

This was being paid six years ago," she said. "Many foreign workers feel, what would be my gain when I leave my family, my comforts, everything, what is my attraction? The first attraction has to be the pay package."

Workers themselves are becoming choosier, asking to work for specific companies where they heard terms are better, she said.

"I can rarely find good Thai construction workers now. They prefer to go to Taiwan and other countries. Similarly, we've seen a decrease in the Indian workers for the construction and marine sector," she said.

But Dr Ho Nyok Yong, president of the Singapore Contractors Association, said that Bangladeshi workers are still plentiful, along with Indian workers.

"Bangladeshis - you want to get, you'll sure get. And India is a giant country. At this moment, we still don't feel the pinch. But you can see they are developing very fast," he said.

National University of Singapore labour economist Shandre Thangavelu said that Singapore can look for alternative sources of low-wage labour from countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

But the slowdown of blue-collar foreign labour may not be a bad thing, he said. "Economic growth should be driven by productivity rather than labour in a small open economy like Singapore," he said.

Companies can also be encouraged to rehire their experienced foreign workers, which the government is doing, he said. From July, unskilled work permit holders can work in Singapore for up to 10 years, compared to six years previously.

"New immigrants are less productive than those already here. We don't need a lot of immigrants. We need fewer immigrants, but more productive ones," he said.

However, an overall environment of higher costs is driving some manufacturers abroad.

Sabrina Lim, business development director of precision engineering company Super Union, said that high rents pushed the company to expand in the Iskandar development region in Johor. A factory is being constructed, and recruitment will begin in the second half of the year.

She is hopeful where hiring is concerned. "In Singapore there are restrictions on mainland Chinese but in Malaysia we can hire all sorts of nationalities, around five or six choices.

"Moreover we're willing to pay a higher wage. So it won't be difficult."

Singapore, Singapore

#3 Jul 10, 2013
More Filipinos returning home to work due to booming economy

By Christine Ong
POSTED: 10 Jul 2013

MANILA: Filipinos are no longer just going overseas to find work -- many of them are returning home because of its booming economy. Most of these returnees are now working in the country's vibrant tourism and hospitality industry.

After 14 years of working abroad, chef Mateo Ragonjan decided to come back home to the Philippines. He left his lucrative career in a seven-star luxury hotel in Abu Dhabi to work as an executive sous-chef in Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila.

He said: "The Philippine economy is improving, so we took the chance to try and we see it from our eyes that the Philippines has changed since the time we left. I hope that this will continue and it can help a lot of Filipinos. Rather than going out again, they can stay and they can work here."

Like chef Ragonjan, financial manager Fritz Lacap was lured home because of the bright prospects of the country's economy.

Mr Lacap, director of financial planning and analysis at Solaire, said: "Everything is really positive now. And with the knowledge and skills that I gained from working abroad, I can share that to my countrymen here and in turn, help the country's economy. It's really a wonderful feeling. On top of that, I am able to be with my family. Nothing can beat that."

As more and more overseas Filipino workers are now coming back home to work in the Philippines, the government said they are now seeing a trend of reverse migration, as more local firms are now able to offer competitive salaries.

In 2012, the country's economy grew a notable 6.6 per cent, and is expected to grow further as more investments pour in after the back to back credit ratings that the Philippines secured in less than two months.

Nicon Fameronag, director of the labour communications office at the Department of Labour and Employment, said: "We hope that more foreign investments will come, because it will lower the cost of borrowing money so that small businesses who would like to expand, or entrepreneurs who would like to start a new business will find it easier to borrow money to start their businesses.

"A job is basically created by the private sector, so we hope the more investments coming, the more businesses opening up will mean more jobs being created in the countryside, and even in the urban areas."

There are now over ten million Filipinos working abroad. In 2012, their remittances totalled to more than US$20 billion.

Singapore, Singapore

#4 Jul 24, 2013
Low pay may deter foreign workers

Hard to recruit new construction workers if they're paid more elsewhere

The Straits Times - January 3, 2013
By: Amelia Tan And Maryam Mokhtar

SINGAPORE will find it difficult to recruit foreign construction workers even from newer markets like Sri Lanka and the Philippines if it does not match salaries that employers elsewhere are offering.

This is the view of agents, employers and migrant rights activists who were reacting to the news that Singapore employers are stepping up recruitment of workers from these two countries to cope with the construction boom here.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said it is helping to set up test centres in these two places to screen and train potential hires.

Experts, however, pointed out that Singapore faces strong competition from the Middle East and Cyprus, which have been employing Sri Lankan and Filipino construction workers for several years now, and pay them more than $1,000 a month.

In contrast, construction workers here, such as those from India and Bangladesh, are paid as low as $700 a month.

Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) president K. Jayaprema said the salaries of construction workers here have stagnated in the past decade.

This is because employers feel that "the workers are still earning more here than what they earn at home" and do not want to raise salaries.

She pointed out that construction workers also spend $1,000 to $2,000 on courses, and to take the test to come to Singapore to work.

They save on this money when they go to places like the Middle East, which do not have such requirements.

Ms Jayaprema, who owns an agency recruiting Indian and Bangladeshi workers, said: "Workers see this as a cost in coming here and they want to recoup the cost with good salaries."

Ms Bridget Tan, chief executive of Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), said Singapore must contend with the fact that fewer Sri Lankans and Filipinos will come over the years, as the economic situation in their home improves and job opportunities grow.

This has been the case for Chinese and Indian nationals who used to come to Singapore in droves in the 1990s.

But they are staying away because of better job prospects back home.

Agents said Indian construction workers can earn about $600 working at home, which is not far from the $700 they fetch in Singapore.

Chinese construction workers can earn close to $1,000 at home which is near the average of $1,200 they draw here.

While Sri Lanka and the Philippines can help to meet some demand, experts expect India, China and Bangladesh to continue to be top draws because employers have become used to working with them.

Singapore has 277,600 construction workers and the bulk of them come from India, China and Bangladesh.

Beyond raising salaries, the construction sector should also take a longer-term view at raising productivity to wean itself off foreign labour, said Mr Neo Choon Keong, BCA's group director of manpower and strategic policy.

He said: "We no longer expect to have such a large supply of workers in the future.

"We're investing in technology to improve productivity so the number of workers will be contained even as development ramps up here."

Approved sources

Approved source countries and territories for construction workers in Singapore:
•Sri Lanka
•The Philippines
•Hong Kong
•South Korea


#5 Nov 15, 2013
agree! Respect japan. Although without foreign workers. Japan is no 2 in the world. The devoloped and industrial nation. Nissan gtr, mitsubishi evo, subaru impreza all made by japanese hands. Foreign workers will make trouble, burdens and increase the criminal activhties.
maung maung thin

Singapore, Singapore

#6 Mar 24, 2014
More Myanmar professionals in Singapore heading home to tap booming economy

Published on Mar 24, 2014

By Joanna Seow

Despite working as an IT analyst in multinational companies here for seven years, Myanmar national Aung Kyaw had his application for permanent residency rejected six times.

So last year, he decided to return home to focus on his trade and human resources company in Yangon, which he opened in December 2011........ -
U Maung Saw

Singapore, Singapore

#7 Mar 26, 2014
Suu Kyi encourages overseas Myanmar citizens to return home


May Wong
Published: September 22, 6:06 PM

SINGAPORE — Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has encouraged overseas Myanmar citizens to return home to participate in the country’s transformation.

She said they should use the skills and knowledge they have gained abroad to help the people in Myanmar.

Ms Suu Kyi was speaking to about 6,000 Myanmar nationals living and working in Singapore. She is on the third of her five-day visit to Singapore.

Dance performances by some of Myanmar’s ethnic groups and a video showcasing Ms Suu Kyi’s early years entertained the audience who packed the Resorts World Convention Centre from as early as 5am today (Sept 22). There were rapturous cheers and applause, with many whipping out their cameras to capture the moment when Ms Suu Kyi made her appearance.

Addressing the crowd in Burmese, she said many Myanmar nationals enjoy living overseas. However, she called on the citizens to decide on how they can make a difference in Myanmar.

“Please take pro-active actions to create the conditions that you want to see in Myanmar. Don’t just wait for the conditions to improve on their own,” she said. That message resonated with the audience.

Ms Suu Kyi also had a 30-minute question and answer session where she fielded questions such as what policies does she have to help change the country and how to further attract foreign direct investments into Myanmar.

The key, she said, is that Myanmar citizens need to change their mindsets in order to help bring about development and alleviate poverty in Myanmar.

Tell me when this thread is updated: (Registration is not required)

Add to my Tracker Send me an email

Add your comments below

Characters left: 4000

Please note by submitting this form you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator. Send us your feedback.

Singapore Discussions

Title Updated Last By Comments
6748 3518, Hoegaarden Beer with FREE Delivery/ ... 12 hr Chilledbeers2door... 1
6748 3518, Heineken Beer with FREE Delivery/ 1 ... 12 hr Chilledbeers2door... 1
Spanking in Singapore (Apr '11) 12 hr schoolboy70 1,047
6748 3518, Tiger Beer with FREE Delivery/ 1 Hou... 12 hr Chilledbeers2door... 1
Norvell & Associates Certified Public Accountan... Thu moriautumn2014 1
SEO Services Singapore Thu Toonr 2
Yoga Tops for Women Singapore Thu Frankr 1
Enter and win $5000

Singapore People Search

Addresses and phone numbers for FREE