What is the change? The overall annual foreign workforce growth in Singapore has dropped from 144,500 in 2007 to 34,000 in 2014, a decline in the annual growth rate from 19 percent to 3 percent over the past eight years.

What does the change mean? Currently, foreign workers make up only about one-third of the workforce, a significant decrease from previous years and a level that the Ministry of Manpower intends to maintain.

Background: According to recent statements by the Minister of Manpower, all sectors experienced a “significant slowdown” in the growth rate of foreign workers over the past eight years. In the service sector, the increase in the number of foreign workers, expressed in raw numbers and year-to-year percentages, dropped from 54,500 (28 percent) to 21,500 (5 percent). The construction sector slowed from 36,000 (23 percent) to 9,700 (3 percent), and the manufacturing sector showed negative growth from 42,000 (18 percent) to 5,400 (-2 percent). The minister, Lim Swee Say, made the remarks July 14 in response to a question from the Singapore Parliament.

Singapore instituted a localization program in August 2014 aimed at giving Singaporean workers fair consideration for all jobs.

BAL Analysis: Government efforts to boost employment of Singaporean citizens have had a direct impact on employers who recruit foreign nationals. Companies must take additional steps when advertising job vacancies and consider Singaporeans before hiring foreign nationals, and authorities have increased enforcement of the Fair Consideration rules.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in Singapore. For additional information, please contact

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