Foreign talents of Singapore
Done by: Fan Yi, Yan Kai Di, Xiong Xing YuDefinition
· Foreign talents refer to those who have achievements or skilled in bio-medicine research, technology and other related jobs as well as those who come to Singapore's tertiary institutions to impart their knowledge to our students. Students with great potential migrating to Singapore to study can also be considered as “foreign talents”.
  • In his national day speech in 2006, Minister for Education, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam states that "We must continue to take in foreign students from all over Asia, and the world. Each of them brings a different bit of the world into our schools, and into Singapore."
  • Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore also says that the current immigration policy, which is meant to attract foreign talent, will not change. He thinks that in order to stay competitive not only in Asia, but also the world, Singapore must continue to attract talent, especially when it suffers a falling birth rate.

Policy making
Various policies and incentives are used to attract foreign talents.

  • The Singapore Talent Recruitment (STAR) Committee was formed in November 1998 with the aim of attracting foreign talents to Singapore.
  • Other similar programmes include Manpower 21, launched in 1999, to develop Singapore's manpower as a key competitive advantage in the new global economy. The Manpower 21 Plan is effectively the manpower response to the Committee on Singapore's Competitiveness' vision of Singapore as a globally competitive knowledge economy. M21 is also about creating opportunities for Singaporeans to realise their full potential so that everyone can make a meaningful contribution. The Manpower 21 vision is for Singapore to become a Talent Capital, a centre of ideas, innovation, knowledge and exchange. It is a hub of continuous learning for lifelong employability and a country where the Government, employers, unions, community organisations work in unison to achieve the country's goals. In essence, it is a place where people make the difference.
  • The government has developed the Scheme for Housing of Foreign Talents with the aim of providing affordable yet comfortable accommodations for foreign talents, in order to attract them to work and stay in Singapore. The Scheme for Housing for Foreign Talents (SHIFT) was launched in August 1997 by the Jurong Town Corporation. Under this scheme, foreigners can rent HDB flats at a lower rate. Monthly rental is $700 for an unfurnished three-room flat, $1,000 for a four-room flat, $1,300 for a five-room flat and $1,500 for an executive flat.

Video on the foreign policy problem



Reason for the making of the policy
  • With a small population and no territorial ambitions or major strategic rivals, Singapore's global concerns are primarily economic in nature.
  • To use foreign talents to help in the development of less developed areas of Singapore's economy.
  • Provides Singapore with more talents so that it can excel in various fields, so that Singapore's economic development can improve.
  • Also provides Singapore with more knowledgeable sportsmen or coaches so that Singapore can also excel in terms of sports and competitions.

Advantages of the policy
  • Foreign talents add value to the Singapore's workforce and can even exchange valuable knowledge and experiences they have obtained in their hometown or other places with our local expertise.
  • Besides economic increase, foreign talents also bring with them their culture when they migrate to Singapore. As Singapore is a country with many cultures and a crossroad of the east and the west, these new cultures brought here by the foreigners will definitely merge into the society.
  • The foreign talent can also transports the technique they use in their homeland and adapt it in Singapore, making Singapore more competitive compared to other countries.
  • As these foreign talents normally migrate to Singapore from places where it is poorer, the living conditions are not that good and they could not find a suitable job, they often tend to settle for lower pay unlike locals. This can help to slow down the demand for higher wages and through this, it helps to keep the economic competitive.

Challenges faced by the government
  • Singaporeans feels threatened by these foreign talents as they tend to be at a disadvantage when compared to those foreign talents.
  • Singaporeans have other duties besides that of work, including those locals with great talents. Thus, they are unable to work overtime whereas foreign talents are willing to. Hence during an economic crisis, these people are most likely to be jobless and this causes social problems to Singapore.
  • With the fast economic development in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other places, more and more foreign talents will prefer to go there instead of going to Singapore. Singapore is facing potential elite drain.
  • Also, one of the major problem faced by the government is that foreign talent is not something that can be properly secured, meaning that once there is an economic crisis, foreign talents are more likely to migrate to another country in hope for better standard of living or better job opportunities.

What the government did to counter the problem
  • The government ensures that Singaporeans have more privileges in their daily lives compared to foreigners.
  • The government promises that in times of economic problems, the locals would not be fired if it can be helped, and also provides locals with alternative jobs if they lost their jobs.
  • Singaporeans have significant subsidies in terms of healthcare and housing development.
  • There are certain areas, usually recreational sites, where foreigners are charged more than Singaporeans.
  • In schools, certain scholarship requires the student to be at least PR or Singaporean in order for the student to be legible for application.
  • Improving education on Singaporean students.

Advantages of such policy
  • Singaporeans do not have to fear that the government is "neglecting" the Singaporeans by strongly supporting foreign talents in Singapore.
  • Encourages foreign talents to convert themselves to Singaporeans and join Singapore to help in its development.
  • Encourages the production of local talents as through improving education on the students and also making certain scholarship unique to local students only, it encourages these students to strive for the scholarpships and competitions as it shows that Singapore students have equal right to scholarship as compared to foreign talents.

How does this shows good governance
  • The government is shown to be able to deal with the feelings of unfairness by the local people effectively, through ways such as giving locals equal opportunities, so as to ensure that the feeling of unfairness is properly dealt with.
  • Ensures that more local talents can be developed by making oppotunities of competing for scholarships equal among local and foreign students.
  • Encourages more foreign talents to stay in Singapore by offering them with many local-only privilege if they became PR or Singaporean.

Assessment of impacts that foreign talents bring to Singapore
  • We do not think that Singaporeans should be overanxious about stiff competition between themselves and foreign talents, as long as there is fair competition and no widespread cutting of salary which will result in overall decline of welfare and feelings of locals.
  • Although foreign talents have more work experience and are less demanding than Singaporeans, Singaporeans have their own share of advantages.
  • They are able to pick up things faster than foreigners as this is their homeland afterall.
  • As such, locals' fear of foreign talents taking away their jobs is unjustified.

Notes for this wiki:
Worksheet on foreign talents: