Strengthening the Singaporean core

Published in
4 min readSep 9, 2020


The issue of a Singaporean core in the workforce, especially at the middle to higher management levels, has been in the national spotlight.

In the opening of Parliament on 31 August, Member of Parliament (MP) Patrick Tay suggested that local authorities can do more to protect the Singaporean workforce.

“It is time to pivot and supplement our first-class hard infrastructure with an upgraded soft infrastructure. Proper safeguards for our Singaporean PMETs must be put in place to allow our tribe, the Singaporean Core, to flourish and uplift future generations of Singaporeans.”

Tay, who is also the MP for Pioneer Single Member Constituency (SMC) and Assistant Secretary-General for the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), outlined several suggestions.

These include a higher qualifying salary requirement for the financial services sector and raising the minimum salary criteria for the Infocomm Technology (IT) and professional service sectors.

But what do Singaporeans really think about measures to tighten the flow of foreign talent?

To find out, OPPi, a crowdsourcing engagement tool that measures the pulse of the people to find common ground, was utilized to conduct a survey on the overall theme: “Should Singapore adopt tighter measures for foreign hiring?”

The survey comprising 21 questions drew over 200 participants, from which there were 165 valid responses.

Over 95% of the respondents were Singaporean, and over 77% were employees.

The majority agree on the need for tighter measures

The findings clearly show that both employers (75%) and employees (70.4%) agree that Singapore needs skilled foreign workers to be globally competitive.

The majority (66.9%) agree with Tay, that tighter foreign hiring measures should be implemented for the IT and professional sectors, where the issue has been reported to be of greater concern.

While the results show a divergence among respondents in areas like whether companies would find it more costly to operate and hard to compete once EP and S pass criteria are tightened, the OPPi survey identified clear areas of consensus and common ground among the respondents.

For instance, there was a high level of agreement (84%) that companies with unfair recruitment practices should not have preferential tax benefits and be barred from public sector contracts. They felt that these companies should be published on public domains and not benefit from government schemes.

Over 90% also agree that apart from measures to tighten the flow of foreign talent, it is critical to train and groom local IT talents so that Singapore can have its own talent pool to support businesses in the future.

Older employees expressed concerns about their employability

In many statements, older employees expressed their disagreement on whether foreign companies will remain in Singapore with the tightened measures. Many of them were concerned about their employability and feel that the government should prioritise the Singaporean core within the workforce.

MP Patrick Tay responds

On the survey results, Tay recognised the various tension points that were exhibited in the survey and shared that this is a sensitive topic to handle. On one hand, Singapore will need to stay globally competitive and on the other hand, we should continue to strengthen the Singaporean core in our workforce. He shared that he will continue to look into the suggestions and lobby these causes on the public domains in the months to come.


OPPi provides you with a new way to feel the pulse of the people. OPPi crowdsources opinions and ideas, finding out what others think. OPPi aims to find common ground where people seem to be divided. We locate shared values and not what divides us.

Find out more about the dataset and the details of the survey at this link.



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