Desperately Seeking Singaporean. Sim Ann says

If you are a Singaporean web developer/designer, well versed in PHP, with 2 to 3 years of commercial experience, my constituent Mr Tan is looking for you.

Mr Tan owns a successful local SME specialising in developing web 2.0 business applications for corporate clients. Business owners like him don’t often walk through the doors at my MPS, but tonight Mr Tan did.

Mr Tan’s company hires 6 locals (including himself), 2 foreigners on S-Pass and 1 foreigner on Employment Pass. His business is growing and he needs to hire two more persons.

One opening is for a Client Account Manager. No problem – of the 89 applications he received, about 80% are Singaporeans. He plans to hire a Singaporean for this role.

The other opening is giving him a headache. He needs a Web Developer/Designer, and he has hardly any Singaporean applicants.

He told me he advertised on 2 well-known online job portals. On one job portal, 43 people applied, amongst whom only 1 was a Singaporean. Unfortunately, the person’s qualification and experience did not match what Mr Tan’s company needed.

On the second job portal, out of 16 applicants thus far, all are foreigners.

He is pessimistic about the prospect of finding a local web developer.

“There are Singaporean job-seekers, but they all want to manage projects,” he told me. “I already have enough project managers. I need someone to actually do the work.”

Is he prepared to train? “My company is prepared to train and groom any local talent we can find,” he said. “We do so even though we know that once they are trained, many Singaporeans job-hop and move on to MNCs.”

This is why he came to seek my support for an appeal to MOM to allow him to hire one more foreign employee on S-Pass.

If the appeal is not successful, he said he may well consider relocating his company to another country in the region.

“Where?” I asked him. Turns out he has already thought it through – Vietnam, Myanmar or the Philippines. He even gave me a succinct analysis of the pros and cons of each.

Mr Tan understands all the arguments why controls on foreign manpower are being tightened. He is a born and bred Singaporean, and doesn’t want his company to move if he can help it. Being a born and bred Singaporean, neither do I. I am also mindful that if his company relocates, this may mean his 5 local employees will have to look for new jobs.

So, if you are a Singaporean web developer/designer, well versed in PHP, with 2 to 3 years of commercial experience, send me your particulars at and I will ask Mr Tan to contact you.

But not foreigners, please. He has more than enough applicants already.

Sim Ann 沈颖    by Sim Ann 沈颖
Link : Desperately Seeking Singaporean


This is a recurrent story amongst SMEs especially. Singaporeans SMEs who employ Singaporeans. Providing employment for Singaporeans to the tune of over 60%, it is important that our SMEs remain not only viable, but successful.

Having access to a diverse workforce remains important even as we slow down growth of the foreign workforce. Not easy striking a balance.

For larger regional and multi-national set ups, it is also similarly important as it is one of the reasons why the companies invest here and why our local companies stay put instead of relocating. By being here, they create local jobs and also secondary jobs in supporting businesses.

Therein lies the tension between having access to foreign labour and reigning in growth of foreign labour numbers.

   Tan Chuan-Jin


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