SINGAPORE — Singapore will not limit the number of applicants for its new work permit, Labor Minister Tan See Leng has said, as the city-state seeks to boost its appeal to the world’s best minds.
The introduction of the Overseas Networks and Expertise (One) Pass last week and other measures making it easier to hire expatriates are a response to the tight job market, Tan said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Monday.
“What we really hope to bring to Singapore are the rainmakers,” Tan said, referring to efforts to attract leaders in science, technology, engineering and science. mathematics, as well as finance, arts, culture and sports. “It’s an offensive strategy for us.”
The One Pass, a visa that will allow its holders and their partners to work for five years, is Singapore’s renewed effort to attract global talent after its pandemic-era restrictions and efforts to protecting local workers made it less welcoming. As economies reopen and growth continues to stutter, countries like Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Germany and Thailand are looking for the best to fuel their recovery by facilitating access.
“In the competition for talent, we’re in a very, very high-profile mode,” Tan told a panel of Bloomberg editors and reporters separately. “There’s hyper competition, and we’re very careful about what we reveal, because we’re not looking for numbers. We’re really looking for quality – not quantity.”
Boosting innovation and increasing productivity are key for Singapore as it seeks to increase manufacturing value added by 50% and annual exports to $1 trillion by 2030. This goal would be difficult at the current rate of expansion , estimates compiled by Bloomberg showing the economy will likely grow 3.7% this year, one of the slowest rates in Southeast Asia, and the pace is expected to slow further to 2.8% l ‘next year.
The minister suggested the government was ready to do all it could to support growth, as it addressed the issue of enabling LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) workers and their partners to live and working in Singapore, claiming that this would not be a barrier to entry for leaders in the identified fields.
“When you talk about this new pass that we’re aiming for, I don’t think there’s a specific quota or number,” he said.
“These are people who are really in the upper space itself. I think we would be able to handle those kinds of applications,” he added.
Mr Tan’s comments follow Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech last month, in which he said the government would repeal a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men, while pledging to protect the national definition of marriage, which excludes same-sex unions.
Here are some additional excerpts from Mr. Tan’s interview:
On talent acquisition:
– “We are always open for business, always open to global talent.”
– “If I give you a clear and articulated list, then everyone would go after the same group of people and I would end up compromising myself and our country as to where we want to hunt”, said Mr. Tan, referring to the specific sectors. Singapore aims.
– “The last thing you want is for this to become an auction system.”