There’s been much hoo-ha over the past few days in our little island. Yang Yin is back in the news, freshmen in universities are apparently up to no good in camp, unemployment is rising… and yet, the Ministry of Manpower is raising the minimum salary criteria for Employment Pass holders from $3,300 to $3,600? Why?
We know that if we increase the qualifying salary by too much, businesses which still need foreigners may pass on the higher costs to customers, thereby further increasing costs of living.
At the same time, if we don’t increase the qualifying salary, employers may see foreigners as a cheaper source of labour instead. In the worst case scenario, businesses may move out of Singapore, with Singaporeans losing their jobs.
But Not All Is Doom And Gloom
As an SME owner myself, I see plenty of reasons to continue hiring Singaporeans:
1. Context Is Everything
Sometimes I need my staff to do things “chop chop”. My staff will definitely not “anyhow-ly do” because they sure scared they “kena” from me.
If you’re a Singaporean, you’re definitely going to be able to understand me as a Singaporean boss. I’ll only have to say things once and they are probably going to get it. A foreigner? I’ll have to be careful not to lapse into Singlish, or things may get lost in translation.
Now this may seem like a small issue to you, but I find that the lack of language barrier makes it a lot easier to forge relationships in a small team. Having grown up in a similar environment, I’m able to identify with my staff a lot more, understand them, and in turn, earn their loyalty. Which brings me to my next point…
One of the common grouses of employers who hire foreigners is how many take long leave to visit their families back in their home countries. Sometimes if there are bad news back home and their families need them, then they might have to leave their jobs for a while. This can be highly disruptive as it breaks the momentum of work.
As for locals, they have their families, friends and loved ones here. The men even served NS to serve our country! Many surveys have also shown how many Singaporeans value a good job with low risk over a job with higher pay but less stability, especially given the volatile markets these days. Since their roots are here, some Singaporeans’ preference is to stay here to be close to their loved ones so long as they can make a decent living.
As an employer, I’d admit it’s selfish of me, but I’m happy to offer my good staff stability and equitable pay, as long as my small business still remains profitable.
Believe it or not, it’s cheaper for me to hire Singaporeans – and not just because the qualifying salary for foreigners has been raised. My company qualifies for the Career Support Programme (CSP), a wage support programme to encourage employers to offer suitable job opportunities for mid-career PMETs.
Under the CSP, if I employ a PMET who is 40 and above, I can qualify for as much as a 20% subsidy on his/her first six months of wages. If I hire someone 50 and above, this subsidy could go up to 40%. This is good news for employers, who are not only able to reduce costs, but also benefit from the experience of these workers.
So, there you have it. Three reasons why I, as a Singaporean employer, would rather hire Singaporeans. It’s not just patriotism. It’s practical.
This article was contributed by Smith Leong. Smith is the co-founder of OvenBaked Ideas, which has three different startups – FOMO Digital Pte Ltd, MeGuideU and OvenBaked Media. Smith is no stranger to the local online community, his personal blog Smithankyou.com won Best Lifestyle Blog 2014 under Singapore Blog Awards by SPH.
Feature Image Credit: CNBC.com