The Business Times

New pilot programme to familiarise S Pass holders with life in Singapore

Elysia Tan
Published Mon, Nov 7, 2022 · 07:40 PM

SINGAPORE will pilot a Settling-In Programme for new S Pass holders next year, to familiarise these skilled foreign workers with working here and encourage positive interaction with locals in and beyond the workplace, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng in Parliament on Monday (Nov 7).

As for talent entering on an Employment Pass (EP) or the new Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass, the hope is that as they spend time here, they "will choose to make Singapore their home”, said Dr Tan, even as he noted that these passes do not provide any guarantee or fast-track to permanent residency (PR).

“Granting PR or citizenship to deserving global talent means that we can anchor them here to continue creating opportunities for Singapore and Singaporeans in the long run,” he said.

Dr Tan was responding to an adjournment motion by Nominated Member of Parliament Raj Joshua Thomas, who made suggestions on how the government can bolster Singapore’s global talent strategy.

Thomas’ proposals included a compulsory initiation programme for work pass holders that encourages respect, and doing more at the secondary school level to encourage a global mindset among local students.

To the first idea, Dr Tan noted the benefits of integrating work pass holders into society, such as less friction in the workplace and stronger teams. But he added that while orientation programmes can help, existing examples are not compulsory, as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) aims to promote integration without being overly prescriptive.

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Tripartite partners currently engage senior EP holders when they first come to Singapore, to participate in “in-depth, small group engagements” about “key workforce and workplace issues, including maintaining fair and harmonious labour relations and ensuring good local-foreign integration in companies”, he said.

Dr Tan also reiterated the ministry’s intent to create a fair playing field for locals. “This includes taking action against employers who have not hired fairly and may include suspending their work pass privileges,” he said. “In the near future, we will expand the range of actions that we can take through the workplace fairness legislation.”

“We are expanding our collaboration with countries including New Zealand, Indonesia and France to facilitate more Singaporeans in going abroad to study and work,” he added.

MOM will also consult workers and companies on how to reduce barriers and remove obstacles that deter locals from taking on global and regional opportunities, under the national Forward Singapore exercise that aims to review and refresh the country’s social compact.

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