15 June 2015
FCF could be more than just an advertising rule: Labour Movement
Imelda Saad

SINGAPORE: The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF), which kicked off in August 2014, has forced companies to look for Singaporeans first before hiring foreign professionals.

Under its rules, employers must put up a job placement ad in the National Jobs Bank portal for 14 days, before hiring a foreigner on Employment Pass.

The move, aimed at levelling the playing field for local PMEs in search of jobs, came after complaints of some sectors disproportionately hiring foreign professionals.

The immediate impact of the FCF is businesses are taking longer to fill up positions especially for sectors where local talent is lacking.

One head-hunting firm said the numbers "just aren't there". These include sectors like InfoComm Technology and jobs related to corporate governance.

"We're finding decisions aren't necessarily being made perhaps as quickly as they have been made in the last 12 months," said Toby Fowlston, managing director of Robert Walters Southeast Asia. "What that would tell us, and this is more anecdotal, is that it's often the same pool of candidates that are being interviewed, very often for the same type of jobs."

Robert Walters has taken to a strategy of wooing overseas based Singaporean professionals back home. "We are really searching for obviously additional sources of candidates, which is why we have looked at this overseas returning pool as much as domestic pool as well," Mr Fowlston added.

Many said there was a need to be clearer on where the demand is and where the gaps are.

"I do think there needs to be perhaps a little bit more thought to some of the areas of demand at the moment," said Mr Folwston. "There are high demands for these roles and the question is whether there is enough talent. Talent is very good. There is no issue on that but of course then it becomes an issue of demographics and numbers."

"Sometimes it's not a question of being able to secure just a local candidate," said Association for of Small and Medium Enterprises president Kurt Wee. "Sometimes it's looking for a candidate with the right skills, with the right experience and willing to undertake that particular job or that role. Employers will also face the issue whereby for certain jobs, they are unable to recruit local employees."

'MERE ADVERTISING REQUIREMENT'

The Labour Movement feels requirements under the FCF could go beyond just the mandatory 14-day advertising rule.

"Now the question is whether just by having that advertising requirement is sufficient to nudge employers to take the bold step to hire more Singaporean PMEs because it's just a mere advertising requirement; there's no requirement for employers to share placement figures," said NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay.

"We do not have data on rates of placement for some of these jobs advertised in the jobs bank. That's one area I think can be improved on. Sharing data, how many of these jobs are posted, how many of these jobs actually got to local PMEs.

"The other aspect would be, some of these jobs that are posted, what are the skills, competencies required? Some of these data can be mined so that we can better map some of these SkillsFuture initiatives to plug those gaps. And of course how the tripartite partners can work together to better place Singaporean PMEs in those jobs available in the Jobs Bank.”

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practice (TAFEP) says there were 475 complaints on workplace discrimination in 2013.

The number dropped to 259 last year. However, complaints related to "fair opportunities for Singaporeans" continue to make up half of all complaints.

A TAFEP spokesperson said "fair opportunities for Singaporeans" refers to the requirement for employers to consider Singaporeans fairly for job positions, training or other forms of career development, based on their individual merits.

This is in accordance with the Tripartite Guidelines on Fair Employment Practices, which state that employers are advised to make reasonable efforts to attract and consider Singaporeans for job positions on merit, and to train and develop their potential and careers.

The Ministry of Manpower would not give updated numbers on how many firms it has taken action against or subjected to additional scrutiny.

For employers with areas for improvement, MOM will work with them to develop an action plan to implement improvements and review progress.

Responding to queries from Channel NewsAsia, the MOM would only say that it is reviewing both the Fair Consideration Framework and the Jobs Bank and will share details when the review is completed.

- CNA/ec

Link: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/fcf-could-be-more-than/1915484.html