Singapore Local Workforce vs. Foreigners Employment Profile

Singapore Local Workforce vs. Foreigners Employment Profile

Over the last several years, the Singaporean Labour Market has undergone a huge change in terms of gender employment rates, unemployment rates and the numbers and proportion of foreigners holding Singapore employment pass working in Singapore. The Singapore Labour Market is impacted due to economic and population challenges and evolving workforce needs.




Singapore Employment Pass

Reference: Ministry of Manpower


The employment rate for residents aged 25 to 64 continued to increase. In 2016 it was 80.3% and ascended to 80.7% in 2017. Residents aged 65 and over reached an employment rate of 25.8% in June 2017. The employment rate for those aged 15 and over decreased. In addition to that, it shows a decline reflecting to the anxiety for higher education of the youth and population ageing.

The average of usual hours worked proceeded to decrease to 43.2 hours in 2017. It continues the downtrend from 43.4 hours in 2016. In 2010 the Singaporeans reached a high of 46.6 hours. The worldwide average value is 34 hours what shows a high working morale of the Singaporean workers.

A higher income growth established in 2017 and was supported by Government initiatives to raise the income of low-wage workers. Compared to year 2016 it increased from 4,056 SGD up to 4,232 SGD. It reflects to full-time employed residents in Singapore.




Main reasons for not working and looking for a job are education and training, too old or poor, healthy or disabled as well as taking a break for males. The main reason for females are family responsibilities.

On the one hand the unemployment rate for PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives, Technicians) showed an improvement, as it fell from 3.1 % in 2016 to 3.0 % in 2017 after trending up from 2012 with 2.3%. The long-term unemployment rate for PMETs also enhanced from 0.9 % in 2016 to 0.7 % in 2017.

On the other hand, the unemployment rate for non-PMETs fell to 4.5% in 2017 after register a general improvement from 2009 with 7.0%, as they found it harder to secure a job with the continued decline in non-PMET job vacancies. Nevertheless, the long-term unemployment rate for those persists unchanged at 0.7% in 2017. The reason for the largest group of unemployed residents to lose their job was completion of contract.


Job seekers in June 2017 most commonly aspired work by placing or answering:

  • online job advertisements (52%)
  • asked friends or relatives (43%)
  • answered advertisements (excluding online ones) / wrote to firms (39%)

Besides these three opportunities, PMETs also incline to update resumes on professional or social networking sites (e.g. LinkedIn) (26%) or notify with private employment agencies such as JobPlus, executive search companies or head-hunters (23%).


Singapore Employment Pass

Reference: Ministry of Manpower


Singapore Employment Pass Impact


Global competitiveness and new economic growths are key attributes which affect the Singaporean Labour Market. The manpower numbers is growing, and more productivity is an crucial aim. Therefore, the Singapore Employment Pass and various other work authorisations like the S-Pass and the general Work Permit portray an important factor for foreign workers. The Total Foreign Workforce increased from 1.268.300 in 2012 to 1.368.000 workers in 2017. Thus, it is an increase of about 7.9%. Moreover, the highest data of the last 6 years established in 2016 with a value of 1.393.000 foreign workers in total.

The Singapore Employment Pass ascended from 173.800 in 2012 up to 187.700 in 2017, an increase of 13.900 Employment Passes through the years. Therefore, it reflects about 13.7% of the Total Foreign Workforce in Singapore.

The S-Pass was rising to 184.400 in 2017 and indicates an increase of about 29.5% compared to 2012. Furthermore, the amount of work permits was also ascending from 942.800 in 2012 up to 965.200 in 2017. Additionally, the work permits deliberate the highest percentage in total of 70.5%.


Singapore Employment Pass

Reference: Ministry of Manpower


There are several reasons for the rising number of foreign workers:

  • More companies are relocating and outsourcing to Singapore
  • Foreign specialists are needed for new business sectors growth
  • Internationality of the country increases
  • Better work prospects for foreign workers in Singapore
  • Business language = English


Future trends


  • Labour force participation rate is lower due to population ageing and postponing entry into the labour force due to studies
  • Rising female share of the labour force
  • Labour force persisted to age
  • Tertiary-educated labour force


To put it in a nutshell, the Singaporean Labour Market is exposed to a positive development with several growing business sectors, bigger companies and high-quality business starting in Singapore.

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