Immigration, Population, and Foreign Workforce in Singapore: An Overview of Trends, Policies, and Issues, pp. 2 of 13

The number of Indian immigrants sprang from 14,109 in 1990 to 150,082 in 2015, representing a growth rate as high as 964%. The growth was especially rapid between 2000 and 2010. In terms of the sex ratio, male Indian immigrants have always outnumbered their female counterparts but the gap has been closing gradually.

Singapore’s foreign workforce regime

The main policy instrument through which Singapore recruits and regulates foreign migrant labour is a Work Pass System, which simultaneously forms the basis for immigration selection criteria. Broadly speaking, the Work Pass system consists of three main categories: Work Permit, S Pass and Employment Pass (EP). Any foreigner seeking employment in Singapore must apply for one of the above passes. A Work Permit is meant for “unskilled” or “semi-skilled” workers who are employed in low-wage jobs, usually in manufacturing, construction and services sectors. These workers are usually referred to as “foreign workers” or “guest workers” in Singaporean parlance. The S Pass is for mid-level skilled employees. S Pass holders should command a monthly salary of at least S$2,200, have a degree/diploma and some years of relevant experience. EP is for “skilled” professionals, managers and executives. To be eligible for EP, the monthly salary of the applicant must be above S$3,600. Besides, they should have acceptable qualifications in terms of university degrees and/or specialist skills. For high-earning professionals whose monthly salary is above S$12,000 (for current EP holders) or S$18,000 (for overseas foreign professionals), they are eligible for the Personalized Employment Pass (PEP) which offers more flexibility with regard to the rules governing the holder’s entry and stay in Singapore. In addition to the above three main work pass categories, there is also an Entrepass, first introduced in 2003 (Koh, 2003b) for foreign entrepreneurs wishing to set up businesses in Singapore.

Related Teaching Materials

Annex44.82 KB

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up-to-date with new journal issues!