Singapore – Launching of new enhancements on work pass regulations

As Singapore continues to welcome businesses to grow and expand their operations, the Government is working to position Singapore as a global talent hub. On 29 August 2022, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Trade & Industry, Dr Tan See Leng, announced four key enhancements that the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will make to the local work pass framework to attract top talent and experienced tech professionals in areas faced with skills shortages:

  1. A new Overseas Network & Expertise Pass
  2. Increasing the benchmark for exemptions of certain Employment Pass requirements and Personalised Employment Pass eligibility
  3. Changing Employment Pass procedures
  4. Introducing the option of a five-year Employment Pass for eligible candidates.

More details on the four enhancements are set out in the factsheet annexed to the MOM press release.

AustCham Singapore reached out to corporate member and former Board Member, Karen Green from CorMentis Consulting to ask for her insights on how companies can stay prepared for the work pass enhancements and thoughts on changes announced to Australia’s skilled migration quotas by Home Affairs Minister, Clare O’Neil at the Australian Jobs and Skills Summit held in Canberra on 1 September 2022.

What do you think about the changes announced regarding MOM’s work pass framework?

The Ministry of Manpower has been continuously reviewing visas and quotas for foreign workers to balance Singapore’s core workforce and the need to remain competitive to talent attraction in the region. The latest announcement of a new visa class known as the Overseas Networks and expertise (ONE) Pass targets the top segments of the talent pool. Singapore’s government has consistently spoken of the need to be highly competitive in the space. For businesses recruiting talent at this level, the visa’s flexibility might help with choosing Singapore.

Several talent surveys have been conducted in the region over the last few years, highlighting talent sourcing and retention as rising pressures, particularly in the digital and technology industry. Extending the EP timeframes for tech workers and introducing the ONE pass will give additional options when looking to bring talent to the region.

What are your views about talent retention with recent government announcements in Australia?

Australia has also changed its migration caps last week to encourage more skilled workers and promote long-term talent migration. Businesses across the region are feeling the pressure of finding and retaining staff, which will persist. Industries such as F&B and ESG are facing significant challenges.

How can companies help themselves during this time?

At times like this, I believe in going back to basics and doing them very well. Make it all about the people. Focus on building the highest quality recruitment and candidate experience you can.   Many quality hires are lost in the recruitment process due to poor candidate experience. A competitor can quickly come along and steal your prospective new hirer away if they are already dissatisfied before they even start.   It is costly for businesses to start the search again, yet candidate experience is often an afterthought or driven solely by a computer. It is a process that impacts your bottom line and one you can continuously improve.

Karen Green is a Human Resources and organisational behaviour specialist with over 18 years of experience across public and private sectors. She has a Master’s degree in Human Resources from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and has been in Singapore for almost five years.

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