Singapore Foreign Labour Policy Analysis

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The influx of foreign labor has buoyed Singapore from a Third World to a First World country. However, there has been much hoo-ha about foreign labour policies being unjustified and unfair towards locals. This paper aims to gauge the effectiveness of our foreign labour policies and see whether or not Singapore has brought in more unskilled foreign workers or foreign talents than needed. According to Appendix A, foreign workers refer to unskilled labour intensive workers and foreign talents refer to educated foreigners who take up PMET (Professionals, Mangers, Executives and Technicians) jobs. 1960s-1970s Singapore faced high unemployment rates during the 1960s. Unemployment was rife at 10% of total labour force (Ministry of Trade and Industry,…show more content…
Table 2: Foreign Workers in Singapore from 1970 to 2010 At this period of time Singapore’s foreign labour policy can be said to be justified because there was a desperate need for labour due to Singapore’s small population size. Singapore was just developing then with a feeble economy, thus requiring foreign labour to boost its economy. Furthermore, according to Table 2, 96.8% of the whole population consisted of locals in 1970. Singapore was still largely homogenous hence Singapore’ foreign labour policy can be said to be fair towards locals. 1980s-1990s Another opportunity cost of having unskilled foreign labor would be the evolution of Singapore’s economy. Having unskilled workers contradicts Singapore’s plans to restructure its Labor-intensive economy into an Information Technology economy due to tough competition faced from Labor-intensive China. Singapore’s workforce cannot cope with the demands of an IT economy when the workforce remains unskilled. Graph2: Graph of Singapore’s workforce monthly wage from 1989 to…show more content…
In the 1980s to 1990s, Singapore’s foreign labour policies transited Singapore’s economy and brought about economic growth. Foreign workers accounted for 16.1% of the population (rising from 7.4% in 1980) although unskilled foreign workers were phased out. (Chia, 2009) This was due to the influx of foreign talents. Foreign Talents were necessary for the transition to a capital intensive economy because locals were not educated enough to meet demands for the sudden shift due to their low education levels. Education started to bolster only in 1980 when the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore (CDIS) was set up .Hence, the influx of skilled labour was needed since locals were incompetent. Furthermore, according to Table 2, locals still made up 84% of the population in 1990, which still shows a largely homogenous society. 1990s-21st Century Singapore adopted a knowledge-based economy during this period. According to Graph 3, many job opportunities were created in the 1990s, paving the need for more

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