Foreign spouses could reduce dependence on foreign labour

HRM 20 Nov 2012

The foreign spouses of Singaporeans here could potentially be a talent source to be tapped on to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign labour, said Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of the Migrant Workers’ Centre.

In a report by Channel News Asia, Yeo said: “At the moment, all our employers are looking to other countries with the help of intermediaries to bring in foreign workers. But in fact, in Singapore, many locals have foreign spouses."

"At the moment, all our employers are looking to other countries with the help of intermediaries to bring in foreign workers. But in fact, in Singapore, many locals have foreign spouses," he explained. "We will also request for MOM to provide the similar level of training support for the foreign spouses to help them because they give us Singaporean children, and they are with Singaporeans.”

There are already schemes by the Ministry of Manpower to help foreign spouses find work in Singapore, he adds.

For example, they are not subjected to quotas, restrictions from country source, and do not need to pay any levies when they apply for work permits.

On a separate note, Yeo also said that the government should strive to focus on quality not quantity when it comes to foreign workers. He commented that the Ministry ought to set a minimum qualification requirement for those seeking work permit renewals.

A better-skilled workforce would be more productive and cost-efficient for the economy, and less prone to abuse, he explained.

He said that in the last three years, he has seen a sharp spike in the number of distressed foreign workers – from 1,200 to 1,500 a year. Most of them are low-skilled and vulnerable to exploitation.

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