CNA: New work pass for high earners, achievers can draw top talent in their fields to Singapore: HR experts
“The Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass definitely comes across as a differentiated work pass that offers more flexibility and options to expatriates who are looking for an opportunity to work and live in Singapore long-term,” she said.
“The announcement sends a message that Singapore is deeply committed to retaining its place as the global talent hub in ASEAN as well as now, on a global level.”
In a statement on Monday, the British Chamber of Commerce affirmed this, saying that the focus on removing barriers for the highest levels of talent, combined with the longer-term approach to top-tier work passes, is a “clear signal to the industry of Singapore’s confidence as a contender for global and regional talent hubs”.
SECTORS THAT WILL BENEFIT
Ms Dass thinks that any sector that is undergoing significant change management, or is driving digital and green transformation would require “experienced interim leaders”.
“These roles tend to be transient in nature as their skills and experiences are often most useful at different phases of change,” said Ms Dass.
“The industries that will get the opportunity to tap into this talent pool would include banking and financial services, fintech, technology, manufacturing, life sciences, just to name a few.”
The move is forward-looking in that it “paves the way for future workforce planning”.
She added that there are some parts of the business environment like green transformation and sustainability that will continue to need foreign talent to close the knowledge gap.
However, it may not necessarily alleviate Singapore’s current middle-level workforce crunch.
The changes to the work pass framework will give startups and tech firms a leg up, said Ms Florence Neo, CEO of Action Community for Entrepreneurship, the national trade association for start-ups.
Talent acquisition and retention has been a key issue and growing concern in the startup ecosystem as start-ups are usually unable to compete with the bigger players and MNCs for talent.
“We are pleased to hear that there is now an improved processing time for all EP applications, as well as a longer EP duration of five years for experienced tech professionals,” she said.
“Talent is key to our startups’ growth. For each start-up to be able to attract and retain the talent it requires could well be a game changer to boost and future-proof our startup ecosystem.”
She added that foreign talent coming here also have to integrate with the existing talent pool of Singaporeans.
“It is not a binary choice. Both sides can learn and benefit from the other,” she said.
“In the long run, more quality jobs and opportunities will be created in the market for locals.”
SAFEGUARDS FOR LOCAL WORKERS
But some warned that there should be ways to measure the returns of attracting top talent to Singapore.
“Will they eventually root themselves and families here, create jobs, impart skills? Or just spend some years here and eventually pack up and move home?” said Ms Angela Kuek, director at Meyer Consulting.
“I’ve questions about that but only time will tell.”
National Trades Union Congress Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay said that there should be safeguards to let Singaporeans have fair opportunities to jobs; level the playing field for local professionals, managers and executives, and keep the “Singaporean Core intact and strong”.
He acknowledged that top talent in deep tech and specialised science/research roles can help groom and nurture local talent in these fields.
But he also asked for better clarity on the definition of top talent and for measures to ensure that there is knowledge sharing from foreign professionals to Singaporeans.
“I trust the Government will provide clear guidance on the definition of top talents, perhaps disclosing a list of reputable companies that employs top talents and roles can be shared externally for added accountability,” he said.
“Careful consideration must be given to ensure that foreign top talents complement and plug the skills gaps for Singaporeans,” he added.
But the reality is that Singapore is facing a shortage of local talents in certain sectors, and it needs to explore ways to grow the local talent pool to compete on an international stage, he said.