In a press reply dated 6 July, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) clarified a reader's inquiry of the difference in the unemployment rate between citizens and permanent residents (PRs).

"The unemployment rate for permanent residents (PRs) is lower than that for Singaporeans because the PR eligibility criteria takes into account whether individuals have secured a job here and contribute to our economy," said the Ministry in its response.

Data was also provided by Terence Ho, divisional director, Manpower Policy and Planning Division at the Ministry of Manpower to support efforts taken to help out the unemployed:

  • Last year, the Adapt & Grow (A&G) initiative helped more than 25,000 locals find jobs, compared to about 21,000 in 2016.
  • Over 480,000 jobseekers made use of online job portal MyCareersFuture.
  • Professional conversion programmes for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who wish to reskill and switch careers placed about 3,800 Singaporeans last year, almost three times higher than in 2016.

Additionally, to complement employment facilitation programmes, the Ministry regularly updates foreign workforce policies to moderate the inflow of foreign workers.

For instance, recently the qualifying criteria for Employment Pass (EP) and S Pass holders was tightened, which resulted in a moderated growth of EP, S Pass and work permit holders from 2015 to last year, compared to the preceding three years.

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Nearly eight in 10 PMET jobs created from 2015 to last year went to Singaporeans. Such initiatives helped bring down the unemployment rate for residents to 2.8% in March, from 3.2% a year ago.

About 350 employers are on the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) watchlist, where their EP applications are scrutinised. To date, 1,900 of their EP applications have been withheld, rejected, or withdrawn by the employers. As a result, more than 2,200 Singaporean PMETs were hired by such employers.

"We remain vigilant about the evolving employment situation, especially where jobs-skills mismatches intensify, and continuously review the effectiveness of our approach," stated the Ministry.