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Foreign Talent
At the end, you would have covered:

1) Definitions of foreign talent

2) Singapore government's policy of foreign talent

    a) Rationale

    b) Positive outcomes

    c) Methods

    d) Implications
           Jobs
           National Identity
           Opportunities

3) Evaluation of Governance

4) Case studies

5) Videos


        a) Geniuses with highly specialized technical and intellectual skills to generate innovative ideas to
           steer the economy competitively.
        b) World-class people who have high capabilities and accomplishments in the bio-medical sector, I.T.
           technology, engineering, business industry and other related jobs.
        c) People who migrate to Singapore to impart their knowledge to students in institutions.
        d) Super-achievers, such as overseas scholars, with great learning abilities and potential migrating to
           Singapore to study.
        e) Researchers, surgeons, designers, engineers, bankers, scientists, entrepreneurs etc. most likely
           with Masters or PhDs.
        f) Aspiring musicians, entertainers and male or female athlete.

Note: People who migrate to Singapore to work as construction workers, store assistants, secretaries, clerks
etc. for a better living are considered as foreign workers and not foreign talents.
Singapore Government’s Foreign Talent Policy


      Singapore is a country that is facing the problem of an ageing population and the country’s annual
       birth rate decreased from 60 000 about 30 years ago to only 40 000 now.

      The government tries to attract foreign talents into Singapore to revitalize the ageing population and
       to lessen the burden on the working population. This is important to maintain the sustainability of
       Singapore’s economy and its global competitiveness.

      In addition, Singapore needs to stay economically competitive despite a lack of resource and declining
       birth rate. Therefore, the country is looking towards a knowledge-based economy.

      Thus, there is a need to bring in foreign talents with the experience and expertise into the workforce
       where they can make use of their knowledge to power Singapore’s economy as well as to teach the
       locals so that work efficiency can be increased.

Postive Outcomes

      Singapore is moving towards a knowledge-based economy where the creation and the use of
       knowledge is the main driver of economic growth and employment across all industries.
      Foreign talents are useful as they are “ready-made” and intelligent. They possess skills and knowledge
       in manufacturing and service activities which our local workers lacks.
      With these foreign talents, Singapore can resolve the “brain drain” problem and thus compete
       effectively and efficiently in the global economy.
      In addition, the stiff competition that foreign talents brings in spurs locals to strive to work even
       harder to exceed the limits. This “healthy competition” is good for Singapore as it raises the country’s
       standard as a whole.
      Foreign talents also have much more potential than the locals and stand a greater chance of winning
       in competitions than our locals. This can bring glory and fame to Singapore.


      CONTACT SINGAPORE was launched in 1997 by the International Talent Division of the Ministry of
       Manpower to facilitate the inflow of international talent to Singapore.

      The Singapore Talent Recruitment (STAR) Committee was then formed in November 1998 with the
       aim of attracting foreign talents to Singapore.

      There is also a scheme under JTC Corporation, known as the Housing of Foreign Talent (SHiFT) scheme,
       which provides a wide range of public housing to meet the needs, preferences and budget of foreign
       talent in Singapore.

      Lately in the year 2007, the Ministry of Manpower also implemented the Work Holiday Programme
       which allows university students and recent graduates, between 17 to 30 years old, to come to
       Singapore to live and work for up to six months.


       One of the main concerns of Singaporeans regarding the influx of foreign talents is that these people
        are taking away their jobs.

       However, these foreign talents are capable and efficient thus are well sought after.

       This ensues competitiveness in the local workers. Only with such competition can our own local
        workers sense the impending need to constantly upgrade themselves through various courses.

       This would inevitably boosts the economy of Singapore and bring greater prosperity to the nation.

National Identity

       One of the main arguments against even having foreign talent in Singapore, would be that of the
        cultural dilution and ensuing lack of Singaporean identity that such an influx of foreign talent would
        conceivably cause.

       Many Singaporeans are of the opinion that having such a number of foreigners come into Singapore,
        would irreversibly dilute our culture and cause our Singaporean identity to erode.

       However, our current society already is a multiracial and multi-religious melting pot of cultures, and
        injecting further foreigners into this mix will not result in any identity or culture being eroded, but will
        rather ensure that Singapore is a vibrant, exciting and even more diverse place.

       In the case of a truly Singaporean identity, we will have to help the foreigners integrate and assimilate
        into our society, forging a unique identity that all of us can share, and treating these “foreign talent”
        as one of us, particularly since they are not so different, and merely adding to the diversity of cultures
        and races in Singapore.


       Another factor that is causing locals to oppose the foreign talent policy is that these foreigners are
        snatching the locals’ opportunities. These foreigners are filling up places in local universities and are
        also getting most of the scholarship awards.

       Most graduates yearn for a place in our local universities as they cannot afford the fees of overseas
        universities. This led to many Singaporeans complaining to the government that too many university
        places are offered to foreigners.

       The Singapore government’s reply is that the competition between foreign talents spurs the locals to
        excel which we agree. This ensures that the locals realize a need to strive for excellence in terms of
        academic in order to get into the university and this also raise the standard of our local universities
        significantly as only the elites are offered a place to study there.

       This also emphasizes the fact that Singapore is a meritocratic society. Singapore does not give
        foreigners special privileges or rights in terms of opportunities. In fact, our nation encourages
        competition to determine the deserving person. The fact that foreigners are increasingly obtaining
        places in local universities is due to the hard work that they put in.
Evaluation of Governance – Foreign Talent Policy

The foreign talent policies undertaken by the government of Singapore have led to both positive and negative
outcomes. We shall now evaluate whether the policies benefit our nation by maintaining a competitive
economy, and moving closer to our aspirations of becoming a major player in the globalized world, without
compromising on the social stability of our country.

Singapore aims to attract foreign talents to work and live in Singapore because of the need to stay
economically competitive in the increasingly globalized world. For some jobs that are more specialized and
require expertise knowledge, local talents alone are not enough and thus there is a demand for foreign talents,
who can bring in the knowledge of the specialized field and raise the standards of the Singapore workforce.

The increased competitiveness in the global economy demands countries to be constantly self-improving in
order to stay in the race, and Singapore, a country without any natural resources, has been able to maintain a
competitive economy, by moving towards a knowledge-based economy. This was made possible through the
attracting of foreign talents, who bring in the necessary knowledge to face the new challenges imposed by the
greater demands of a competitive economy.

The continual stream of foreign talents into the workforce of Singapore has led to much discontentment
among Singaporeans. There are concerns over the loss of national identity, as many Singaporeans are of the
opinion that the large number of foreigners coming into Singapore will dilute our culture and erode our sense
of national identity. Another concern is that foreign talents are taking away the jobs that should have gone to
Singaporeans. In addition, opportunities are also to be shared among foreign talents and locals, thereby
causing a decrease in opportunities, which is another concern of Singaporeans.

Firstly, we have to understand that what makes our culture unique is in fact the presence of different races
and cultures in our country. In this sense, the injection of foreigners into our society will not erode our identity
in any manner because they will be part of our cultural diversity. Secondly, some Singaporeans are of the
feeling that jobs that rightfully belong to Singaporeans are going to foreign talents. However, our economy
requires the knowledge of foreign talents to stay competitive, and it would be detrimental to our economy if
we were to put an end to the bringing in of foreign talents. Furthermore, the influx of foreign talents causes
the local workers to spur themselves to work harder in order to be valued by the employers. In a sense, this
helps to raise the competitiveness within the society and is important to economical development. This raises
the competitiveness within the society, which is beneficial to the society's development.

In order to reduce the discontentment amongst Singaporeans, our government has implemented policies that
serve to help citizens to upgrade their skills, especially in critical times such as the economical crisis. Our
government also encouraged employers to reduce retrenchment by helping the employers to cut costs
through other means. These measures were taken in order to show the citizens that the government is in fact
looking after the Singaporeans. This shows that the Singapore government is doing rather well in both
undertaking the foreign talent policies while still maintaining the social stability.

Singapore's society is rather vulnerable as we have no natural resources and we depend largely on foreign
investments, thus we cannot afford any social instabilities. Therefore, Singapore's government needs to be
extra careful when undertaking sensitive policies such as the foreign talent policy. Until now, Singapore's
government has been doing quite well as the society, despite some concerns over foreign talent policies, is still
rather stable and the economy is moving ahead without hindrance.
Case Studies

Singapore Women Table Tennis Team 2008 (Olympic Silver Medallist Winner)

       Most of us should know of the glory that the Singapore paddlers brought to the country in the Beijing
        Olympics 2008. It was the highly anticipated and the 2nd silver medal for Singapore, which ended the
        48 years of wait for an Olympic medal, since weightlifter Tan Howe Liang won the silver in the 1960
        Rome Olympics.

       The Singapore paddlers, consisting of Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu and Feng Tianwei, fought their way into
        the finals. All three of them were table tennis players from the People’s Republic of China who were
        recruited under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme.

       Their huge feat of achieving Singapore’s first Olympic medal since the country’s independence in 1965
        will always be remembered by all Singaporeans.

Dr Khaw Boon Wan (Singapore Minister of Health)

       Dr Khaw Boon Wan was born in Penang, Malaysia on 8 December 1952. He completed his studies in
        the University of Newcastle, Australia under the Singapore Government Colombo Plan Scholarship.
        After which, Dr Khaw has been actively participating in politics and worked in the Ministry of Health.

       He was also previously the CEO of the National University Hospital, Kandang Kerbau Women's and
        Children's Hospital and the Singapore General Hospital. Dr Khaw was elected as a Member of
        Parliament on 3 November 2001 and appointed Minister for Health on 12 August 2004.

       He currently holds the position of Minister for Health in Singapore and is responsible for the
        encouraging Singaporeans to lead a healthy lifestyle and the reduction and control of diseases in


Shi Jiayi (Singapore National Team Footballer)

       Shi Jiayi was born on 2 September 1983 in Shanghai, China. He became a naturalised Singaporean in
        2005. He currently plays in the S-League for Home United as a footballer.

       Shi Jiayi started on his footballing career as a trainee at Shanghai’s State Football Academy. He joined
        the Singapore Young Lions in 2004. He was an extremely talented and hardworking footballer. He was
        offered Singapore citizenship after a series of dazzling display. It did not take long for him to establish
        himself as a key player in the national team. In 2007, he was an integral part of the Singapore team
        which won the 2007 ASEAN Football Championship. That title was Singapore’s first international glory
        in football in 5 years.


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