MOM’s approach to foreign employee integration

Written by
RMI Team (P)

In a recent interview, former Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed the critical role of foreign workers in Singapore’s economy. Over the past three years, the country has witnessed a staggering 96 per cent surge in foreign job applications, driven by high demand for skilled workers, particularly in sectors like construction, where local labor supply falls short. 

PM Lee emphasised the critical need to integrate foreign employees into Singaporean society, acknowledging the complex balance between fostering social cohesion and managing immigration—an ongoing challenge for Singapore. He stressed, “Singapore must continue to attract foreign talent to meet manpower demands, but integration into our society is paramount.” 

The Singapore Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) has specific strategies for effectively integrating foreign employees, ensuring their positive contributions to employers and the wider community. Central to achieving this goal is the critical practice of rigorous reference checking and comprehensive background screening. These crucial measures guarantee that incoming talent aligns perfectly with the exacting requirements of Singaporean employers and fulfills the nation’s broader socio-economic imperatives. 

First, let’s briefly address why foreign employment is a pivotal issue. 

Benefits of a diverse talent pool in the workplace

Driving economic growth through immigration policies and foreign talent is like adding turbo boosters to a country’s engine – but there are other benefits to using foreign talent. Embracing diversity within an organisation fosters innovation, enhances employee engagement, and broadens perspectives, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving. 

Further, a diverse workplace culture can attract top global talent, improving competitiveness and bolstering long-term sustainability in a globalised economy. According to some studies, benefits include 5.4 times higher employee retention in companies that foster an environment with a multi-faceted diverse workforce.  

As Singapore continues to navigate the complexities of a rapidly evolving workforce landscape, prioritising diversity and integration remains integral to driving economic growth.   

Integration programmes: Creating a scaffolding of support for foreign workers

Integration programmes play a crucial role in Singapore, providing essential support structures and resources for foreign workers to acclimate and thrive in their new environment. These initiatives encompass a range of services from language and cultural orientation to practical assistance in navigating local systems and resources.

By cultivating a supportive framework, Singapore aims to enhance the integration experience, ensuring foreign workers contribute positively to the economy while feeling welcomed and valued in their roles.  

Here are two examples of Singapore’s proactive approach.  

Fostering inclusivity and harmony in Singapore’s workplaces

The initiative, spearheaded by the National Integration Working Group for Workplaces (NIWG-W), epitomises a unified endeavor uniting government, industry, and unions under the auspices of the National Integration Council. Its overarching mission is to champion inclusive and harmonious workplaces throughout Singapore.

NIWG-W actively collaborates with industry stakeholders to heighten cultural awareness, bolster employers’ proficiency in managing diverse teams adeptly, and staunchly supports the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) in their ongoing efforts to cultivate inclusive and cohesive workplace environments. 

Enhancing support for Singapore’s migrant workforce post-Covid: MOM’s multi-year roadmap

A few years ago, as the aftermath of Covid-19 still ran through the economy, MOM announced plans for a multi-year roadmap aimed at improving the policies for the country’s migrant workforce. This initiative, led by Minister Tan See Leng, addressed vulnerabilities highlighted by the pandemic offering greater stability and support for migrant workers in Singapore. The roadmap included measures to improve living conditions, healthcare access, and overall well-being for migrant workers.  

Updated COMPASS framework will facilitate improved pool of talent

An important new step has been added to enhance how foreign talent is brought into Singapore through the Employment Passes (EPs). The EP is among the most commonly sought after employment visa in Singapore. Recently, Singapore’s MOM has stepped up its monitoring due to rapid immigration growth, aiming to crack down on fraudulent employment practices and ensure that top-notch foreign talent is attracted to the country. 

Introduced last year, MOM’s Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) mandates a rigorous two-stage evaluation process for EP applicants, in addition to salary requirements. Beyond streamlining workforce planning for businesses, COMPASS significantly enhances screening measures.

By rigorously vetting applicants, COMPASS facilitates smoother integration into Singaporean society, fostering a diverse workforce that enriches the local talent pool and aligns with national economic goals (see our Best Practice eGuide for details).    

Prioritise robust background screening for MOM compliance

MOM’s proactive approach to integrating foreign employees highlights Singapore’s commitment to leveraging global talent while fostering social cohesion and economic stability.   

MOM’s updated COMPASS framework requires robust background screening services to ensure appropriate employees are hired and proof of education certificate verification. RMI is one of the few verification agencies that has been endorsed by Singapore’s MOM to verify the authenticity of educational certificates from applicants.  Please contact us to ensure complete confidence in your hiring decisions and compliance with regulatory standards.