Singapore: Tight Control of Foreign Workers to Continue, Ministry Says

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By Michael Mackey

March 25—Singapore will maintain tight policies to control levels of immigrant employment, officials at the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) confirmed to Bloomberg BNA March 20.

“We will continue to calibrate our foreign manpower policies, informed by evidence on the pace of foreign worker inflows, the quality of foreign workers being employed and the progress being made in raising productivity,” MOM said.

Need to Boost Productivity

Strong labor demand attracting many more overseas workers is a problem for the city-state's highly limited space and resources, prompting the government to focus on raising the quality of workers to boost growth, productivity and competitiveness rather than relying on more foreign labor, MOM told Bloomberg BNA.

“We need to maintain the tightness to reinforce the impetus to restructuring and productivity efforts and to slow down labor force growth for the rest of this decade,” MOM said.

Changing Demographics

In a March 13 statement, MOM also noted that the local workforce is likely to contract significantly in the remaining years of the decade as growth in the working age population slows, making it imperative that employers raise the skills and quality of their workers.

“Firms have to shift towards more skills- and capital-intensive ways to grow,” MOM said. “This will require not just automating tasks and improving processes, but also making significant investments in the skills and development of their employees.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Mackey in Bangkok at

To contact the editor of this story: Rick Vollmar at

The March 13 MOM statement is available in English at

For more information on Singaporean HR law and regulation, see the Singapore primer.