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Singapore employers directed to work with verified background screening providers for COMPASS educational qualification checks

Singapore employers directed to work with verified background screening providers for COMPASS educational qualification checks

MOM is currently calling for proposals from background screening companies to manage the verification process for EP applications.

As part of measures to enhance its work pass framework, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has called for proposals from background screening companies. This is owing to the required verification of educational qualifications that are declared in new Employment Pass (EP) applications from 1 September 2023, in line with the rollout of the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS).

As such, employers are reminded that the Ministry "will not accept verification proof from background screening companies not listed on the MOM website", going forward into the implementation of the COMPASS framework. 

Below are the details on the rollout of the framework, and how the educational qualification declaration will impact employers, as well as the requirements from background screening companies to be enlisted for this process. 

COMPASS rollout and declaration implication implications

As announced in March 2023, MOM will require employers to verify educational qualifications submitted to the Ministry in support of an EP application. Per the status quo, employers are already responsible for ensuring the authenticity and quality of the educational qualifications of the candidates they intend to hire. Today, MOM requires verification proof for applications that declare qualifications from institutions not found in MOM’s database of accredited institutions, but are nonetheless recognised by the countries’ local government authorities.

Going forward, MOM is expanding this requirement to all EP applications where qualifications are declared for the purpose of earning points under COMPASS, in order to ensure the authenticity of the declared qualifications.

Starting 1 September 2023, employers must note the following processes:

  • Employers submitting new EP applications will be required to verify their candidates' diploma-level and above qualifications.
  • To assist in streamlining this process, MOM will list selected background screening companies on its website through which verification can be done.
  • Alternatively, verification proof obtained from online portals of countries' governments or educational institutions will also be accepted. These alternatives will be listed on MOM's website.
  • MOM is studying the feasibility of other avenues of verification such as digital certificates.

MOM will not accept verification proof from background screening companies not listed on the website.

At the time of writing, the following companies are listed on the MOM website:

  • Avvanz International Background Checks
  • Cisive
  • Dataflow
  • eeCheck
  • HireRight
  • Risk Management Intelligence (RMI)
  • Sterling RISQ
  • Veremark

Per the statement by the Ministry: "MOM will review the listing of background screening companies on a regular basis. Background screening companies that are not selected can apply to be listed through future selection exercises."

To clarify, the verification requirement for renewal of existing EPs will be implemented from 1 September 2024. At the same time, this development does not impact the S Pass application process, as S Pass applications are not subject to the COMPASS framework. Per the current process, S Pass applications with declared educational qualifications from institutions not found in MOM’s database must continue to be accompanied by a verification proof. 

For background screening providers: Evaluation criteria and industry panel

Companies interested to be on MOM's list of background screening providers must be able to provide both authenticity checks on educational qualifications and accreditation checks on educational institutions. The companies must have at least three years of experience in providing these services in Singapore and globally, and demonstrate that there are processes to ensure quality qualification verification standards in place.

A panel comprising tripartite partners, business and HR associations will evaluate companies’ proposals based on factors such as cost and quality of services, time taken to verify qualifications, as well as scale of operations and ability to verify qualifications in various countries.

"More details on the selected companies and implementation process will be shared in due course," MOM shared. 

Sim Gim Guan, Executive Director, Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), noted that while there are already employers who conduct verifications before hiring to ensure the authenticity of the education qualifications of potential employees, there will be employers that are not familiar with the process associated with this new requirement. "Hence, SNEF will work with MOM to help ensure a smooth implementation of this new requirement. SNEF expects that the fees will be kept affordable due to economies of scale, with more employers using such services."

Aslam Sardar, Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP), added: "The call for proposals from background screening companies will help companies access cost competitive services from a list of reliable companies pre-qualified by MOM. This helps facilitate a more timely verification process and ensure that foreign professionals approved through COMPASS have authenticated educational qualifications."


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