Immigration, Population, and Foreign Workforce in Singapore: An Overview of Trends, Policies, and Issues, pp. 10 of 13

We have to preserve a Singaporean core in our society. We need immigrants to reinforce our ranks, but we must maintain a clear majority of local-born Singaporeans who set the tone of our society and uphold our core values and ethos. We are managing the inflow of foreigners who want to live and work here. Many want to become permanent residents and new citizens, but we will select only those who can add value. 

To strengthen the “Singaporean Core,” the government urges companies to hire more locals (Cai, 2011) and groom local talents. In 2011, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), an alliance between the government, employers, and unions for fair employment, issued the guidelines for companies to maintain a Singaporean core in their workforce. In 2013, the Fair Consideration Framework was announced to make sure that companies consider Singaporeans first before hiring foreign professionals (Seow, 2016a). In 2014, the SkillsFuture Council was established, chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (Tay, 2014). SkillsFuture is a national scheme for Singaporeans to upgrade their skills at any stage of life. Under the scheme, starting from January 2016, each Singaporean aged 25 and above would receive $500 worth of SkillsFuture credits to attend various courses (Chew, 2016). In November 2016, the Human Capital Partnership Programme was launched – another initiative that encourages companies to invest in their local workforce. The Programme recognizes companies with “progressive human capital development practices” as “Human Capital Partners” and rewards them with better access to the government’s resources (Seow, 2016b).

The third broad strategy the government has taken to ease the immigration tension is to facilitate social integration. In 2009, the National Integration Council was established to promote the social integration of Singaporeans, new citizens and foreigners. A total of S$10,000,000 of Community Integration Fund was launched to sponsor activities that could enhance the interaction and mutual understanding between local-born residents and newcomers. In 2010, the Singapore Citizenship Journey was introduced to improve new citizens’ understanding of their adopted home (Sim, 2010). Mandatory for prospective citizens pending naturalization formalities, the Journey consists of an online tutorial on Singapore’s history, national policies, and key values, an experiential tour to key historical landmarks and national institutions and a community sharing session where new citizens meet grassroots leaders and other citizens to share their experiences and expectations (National Integration Council, 2010). Furthermore, the People’s Association now organizes volunteers, called Integration and Naturalisation Champions (INCs), to help with the integration of new residents through house visits, sharing sessions, and welcome parties (Eng, 2009).

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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

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