COMPASS points to a future with strong S’porean core

Just a few days ago, NTUC’s Deputy Secretary-General Chee Hong Tat presented in Parliament the labour movement’s approach of better growth, protection and skills, or GPS.

Underscoring the importance of charting the right direction, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng introduced the Complementarity Assessment Framework, or simply COMPASS.

Under this points-based framework, all new applications of Employment Passes (EPs) must score at least 40 points under COMPASS beginning Sep 2023. This aims to ensure that EP holders are of a “higher calibre, and will better complement their teams” and recognise firms that focus on building a strong Singaporean core.

Unlike the IPPT scoring system, firms do not automatically not qualify if they score a zero for one category as they can make up the points in other categories.

Minister Tan said that its transparent system means that businesses “have clarity and predictability for manpower planning.”

He added: “Let me be clear – COMPASS is not designed to make it harder for businesses to obtain an EP. A good majority of the applications today would not have issues. This is because this demonstrates that our businesses in general are progressive, and our policies thus far have brought in complementary EP holders.”

Pointing toward a strong Singaporean core

This is a major move by the PAP government to point the magnetic needle toward a strong Singaporean core.

The four foundational criteria are testament to the desire of a strong local workforce complemented by highly-skilled EP holders.

  • The candidate’s salary relative to local PMET wages in their respective sectors;
  • The candidate’s qualifications;
  • The firm’s nationality diversity and whether the candidate improves it; and
  • And the firm’s support for local employment compared to their industry peers.

This system is beneficial on three counts:

First, employers will find COMPASS responsive to industry’s needs and easier to navigate with its predictable framework. Plus, it recognises their efforts to build up a strong Singaporean core and to maintain a diverse foreign workforce.

Second, because of the firms’ efforts to build up a strong Singaporean core, local employees benefit too.

Third, COMPASS will allow Singapore to remain open to complementary talent in short supply here so we can continue to grow and prosper.

It will be foolhardy to think that Singapore, for its open and connected economy, can survive without outside help.

Likewise, it is reckless for Progress Singapore Party’s Mr Leong Mun Wai persistence in drawing divisions between original citizens, new citizens, and permanent residents.

Minister Tan said: “I urge Mr Leong – have a care. Please don’t undermine the cohesiveness that we have painstakingly built over the years. And please ask people who share your point of view to also have a care for the rest of us.”

With its ambitions and desires to upgrade the capabilities of the local workforce, COMPASS will be the lodestar that will guide us to a brighter future.

Cover photo credit: Capitaland