Singapore is making a difficult choice on foreign workforce

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Singapore is making a difficult choice on foreign workforceHeated debates have broken out in Singapore regarding the policies toward the foreign workforce. Approximately 40% of the total workforce in Singapore are foreigners. It is one of a highest ratio in the world. Singapore has had an open door policy for foreign workers for a long time as they are trying to close the gap between the high and low grade workforce to support a fast developing economy. However, this is about to change. Many Singaporeans are concerned that they might become a minority in their own country. They are feeling that foreigners are taking their jobs. There are also concerns that not all foreigners are integrating into local society or respecting Singaporean culture or values. The Singapore government has to make a difficult decision on what kind of workforce and the volume required for the Singapore economy. The officials are saying that Singaporeans are better educated now and can replace foreign white collar workers. The officials have a different view on blue collar workers saying that a development of Singapore infrastructure requires low grade foreign workforce as Singaporeans do not want to do low grade work in a construction and health care industries. One suggestion that has come from officials is to keep all foreigners on work permits. The rationale behind it is to keep foreign workforce in Singapore only when foreigners are economically active. Once foreigners are close to a retirement age their work permits won’t be renewed. It is considered that this approach will help to increase the working to elderly population ratio and won’t be a burden on the social welfare system in Singapore. Some representatives of foreign chambers of commerce have expressed their concern on any further restrictions on employment of foreign workforce in Singapore. They are saying that it will hurt the image of Singapore as a free economy. There are also some concerns from the local business community who are concerned that some international companies may completely withdraw from Singapore as they might find difficult to find a suitable personnel for their Singapore offices. This might lead to a chain reaction when local businesses need to lay off their staff due to a drop in business.