Pradeep K Singh, a partner at Colin Ng & Partners, told HRD Singapore the tightened regime of the last few years would continue, as the economy shifts into a more sustainable gear for the future.
“In recent years there has been a tightening in the number of people the authorities will approve coming into Singapore for work as well as the qualifications and requirements they need to meet,” he said.
“The economy has moved on to a different stage of development where we can’t accommodate such large numbers anymore. The growth rates are going to be much lower; instead of 5-7% growth, we may see 2-3%.
Singapore is looking more at quality now rather than quantity,” he said.
Singh said the government would continue to encourage – via the immigration measures – the recruitment of home grown talent.
“Companies setting up operations or expanding operations here need to be a bit more conscious of the kind of talent they want to bring in, and pay more attention to the availability of that kind of talent in Singapore.
“Instead of flying in five people, the approach being encouraged is perhaps starting with one or two, and building a team in Singapore.”
Singh said HR teams would continue to have to clearly demonstrate the steps they have taken to source local candidates in Singapore.
“It used to be much easier to have executives coming into Singapore to work, but there has definitely been a change in policy direction.
“While we continue to attract talent to Singapore, we are looking at smaller numbers and looking closely at the quality of people coming in.”
Ministry of Manpower figures show Singapore’s foreign workforce numbered 753,700 in June 2014, excluding domestic and construction workers. This was up from 748,100 in 2013 and 731,300 in 2012.
HR directors will continue to face higher immigration hurdles this year if they are looking to import strong offshore talent into Singapore.