Like CECA expats, S'porean Chinese-dominated companies would hire their own kind too

Jul 09, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership

Criticism of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) is once again in the spotlight with Progress Singapore Party's (PSP) Leong Mun Wai taking the lead in calling for CECA to be reformed.

Leong, an ex-banker and current NCMP wants a "rebalancing" of Singaporeans' interests against those of expatriates (specifically Indian nationals) in professional, managerial, executive and technician (PMET) roles.

CECA, which was signed with India in 2005, is being blamed by disgruntled netizens for job losses by Singaporean PMETs to Indian nationals.

Reports of Indian expatriates forming enclaves in the various companies they work in and only hiring their own have led to netizens referring to CECA hotspots such as the Changi Business Park and Marina Bay Financial Centre as Chennai Business Park and Mumbai Financial Centre respectively.

Singaporean Chinese prefer hiring their own kind too

According to a 2019 survey by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), 80.2 per cent of Chinese respondents indicated that language was sometimes important, important most of the time or always important when hiring someone to work for them.

The figures for Malay and Indian respondents were significantly lower at 71.5 per cent and 73.2 per cent respectively, suggesting that Singaporean Chinese are more likely to form their own racial enclaves in a job setting.

IPS researcher Dr Mathew Mathews, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy told CNA that in a job environment where the majority of workers are more comfortable using a certain language, there might be an interest to hire those who speak the language.

“There is a sense that when people speak the same language, everyone understands each other better and there will be less misunderstanding. However this can lead to a preference to only recruiting people who are similar, and excluding others who can legitimately contribute,” he added.

Singaporean minorities feel more discriminated against when applying for jobs

The proportion of Malay and Indian respondents who said they felt discriminated against when applying for jobs has increased since 2013.

In the survey, a large proportion of minorities - 73 per cent of Malays, 68 per cent of Indians and about half of Others, which includes Eurasians - felt that they had experienced discrimination when it came to applying for a job.

In contrast, 38 per cent of Chinese respondents felt that way, according to the research findings.

Dominant race now feels what it's like to be a minority in the workforce

Sociologist Tan Ern Ser said he believes the findings of the IPS survey are statistically significant.

“Statistically speaking, there are reasons to suspect that Chinese are indeed more likely to give more weight to language and race, compared to non-Chinese.”

Associate Prof Tan noted that this may be related to how companies in Singapore today still specify Mandarin as a "good-to-have" or "recommended" skill for jobs even when it is not necessary.

“The discrimination could be related to the extent to which they believe they can trust or communicate with non-Chinese staff, and the extent to which their majority Chinese customers would prefer to be served by a Chinese staff,” he said.

“Such practices are harmful as they violate our core values of meritocracy and multiracialism, which means that minorities could be deprived of a job, despite having the right credentials.”


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Talent shortage in Singapore with 8 in 10 employers reporting difficulty in filling roles

Jun 15, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership

In ManpowerGroup Singapore's Q2 Employment Outlook Survey, the company revealed positive sentiments regarding pay increments and bonuses. In the latest edition of this report, for Q3, the sentiments have shifted towards hiring between the July to September 2022 period - labelled as "a record high" in the report.

In brief, Singapore’s net employment outlook (NEO) is at +40%, with the previous "record high" being in Q4 2011 at +31%. Further, employers surveyed in all 11 sectors (i.e. communications & media, manufacturing, and construction) anticipate positive headcount growth in Q3, with not-for-profit employers reporting "strongest" hiring intentions at 67%.

Despite the optimistic outlook, Singapore’s talent shortage level has been found to be at "its highest in 16 years", with more than eight in 10 (84%) employers reporting difficulty in filling roles. This statistic represented a 20% increase from 2021. Prior to that, talent shortage levels were quite high in 2018 at 56%, and in 2010 at 53%. According to the findings, the most difficult-to-fill roles are in restaurants & hotels (97%), other services (89%), and construction (88%).

That said, the "most sought-after" professions are: IT & data, operation & logistics, sales & marketing, manufacturing & production, and customer facing & front office. On top of that, employers are also looking at soft skills such as critical thinking & analysis, creativity & originality, resilience & adaptability, leadership & social influence, and reasoning & problem solving.

"The shift from pandemic to endemic has given companies greater clarity on their business outlooks," explained Linda Teo, Country Manager, ManpowerGroup Singapore. "Employers are ramping up their hiring due to a combination of factors like pent-up demand for manpower, employee attrition, and shortage of workers with the right skillsets."

Dissecting the local numbers

Filtering Singapore's NEO figure, analysts discovered that:

  • More than half (52%) of employers plan to hire;
  • More than one in 10 (12%) of employers expect a staffing decrease;
  • Close to four in 10 (35%) of employers plan to keep workforce levels steady, and
  • Less than five in 10 (2%) of employers are undecided about the hiring/talent scene.

In addition to not-for-profit employers having strong hiring intentions, those in other services (professional, scientific & technical, and administrative & support) similarly have positive intentions at 59%. These employers are then followed by those in banking, finance, insurance & real estate (56%), wholesale & retail trade (50%), and restaurants & hotels (46%).

A global perspective

Of the more than 40,000 employers surveyed across the globe, many are likewise expecting to hire more workers in the Q3 2022. According to findings, the global NEO is at +33% - which revealed hiring intentions to "increase year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter" respectively at +18% and +4%. In terms of per country/territory data, Mexico ranks top with a +59% NEO, while India has a +51%; Mainland China +29%, and Hong Kong +11%.

India's NEO is the strongest in the APAC region for the second consecutive quarter, up 13% since Q2. As for Hong Kong's NEO, it improved by 8% compared to Q2 2022, and by 10% compared to the previous year.

Looking at the hiring/talent scene, analysts discovered that digital roles continue to drive "most demand" with employers in IT & technology (+44%). This is followed by those in banking, finance, insurance & real estate (+38%), construction (33%), and manufacturing (33%).