Thursday, 31 January 2013

Employment pass numbers down: Really?

31st January 2013

I refer to the article “Employment Pass numbers down for first time since 2003” (Straits Times, Jan 31).

Less employment pass?
It states that “The number of high-skilled foreigners on Employment Passes (EP) has fallen for the first time since 2003. There were 173,800 EP holders in December 2012, down from 175,400 a year before.
“This is likely in part due to the tighter EP framework from Jan 2012,” Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin wrote in a post on the ministry’s blog on Thursday. These stricter requirements included better educational qualifications and higher qualifying salaries.

More S-Pass?
Meanwhile, the number of S-Passes – meant for mid-skilled workers – went up to 142,400 from 113,900 previously.
Mr Tan noted that “some are workers who were downgraded from EP to S pass”, but said the rise in S-Pass numbers is nonetheless “cause for concern” and that the Government is reviewing the S-Pass framework.”

Total employment passes increase?
So, the total number of employment passes actually increased by nine per cent from 289,300 to 316,200.
How can a one per cent drop in employment passes and a 25 per cent increase in S-Passes be said to be a first-time ever drop in employment passes since 2003?

Employment pass become PRs?
Since there are about 30,000 new PRs now in a year, and about 259,000 PRs were granted over the last five years or so, some of the employment pass holders may simply have become PRs.

Consistency in statistics?
The problem with the statistics on employment passes, PRs, long-term visit passes, work permits, etc, may be that sometimes they tell you the number granted in a year, sometimes they tell you the increase or decrease of the total number in a year, sometimes they tell you the average number in a year over a period of years, etc, such that at the end of the day, it may be rather difficult to try to figure out what exactly is happening.
Perhaps someone can ask for greater consistency in the way statistics are given, especially in Parliamentary replies.

article by Leong Sze Hian

Sze Hian is the Past President of the Society of Financial Service Professionals, an alumnus of Harvard University, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow and an author of 4 books. He is frequently quoted in the media. He has also been invited to speak more than 100 times in 25 countries on 5 continents. He has served as Honorary Consul of Jamaica, Chairman of the Institute of Administrative Management, and founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Brunei and Indonesia. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional qualifications. 

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