Protecting and growing Singaporean jobs top priority: MAS
The Monetary Authority of Singapore will intensify its engagements with the senior management of financial institutions on their workforce profiles and plans to grow the Singaporean core, said its managing director Ravi Menon.
In a reply published today to a letter to the forum, Mr Menon said: "Protecting and growing Singaporean jobs, especially in current economic conditions, is a top priority."
He pointed to a $125 million package established by MAS earlier this year to encourage financial institutions to retain, train and hire Singaporeans.
He was responding to a letter published on Aug 15 by retired senior banker Raymond Koh, who called for an examination of the workforce composition in banks.
"As a retired senior banker, I can say categorically that in the past two decades, many foreigners hired in Singapore's finance sector have been for upper-middle to senior management positions," wrote Mr Koh.
Mr Menon wrote: "While not yet where we want to be for every financial institution, the picture across the sector as a whole is better than often portrayed."
He said MAS estimates that citizens make up 70 per cent of the sector's workforce, with permanent residents (PRs) accounting for another 14 per cent.
Singaporeans take up 43 per cent of senior management jobs across the sector, reflecting the Republic's role as an international hub, he said.
The perennial, hot-button topic of foreign talent is in the spotlight again amid the Covid-19 pandemic and economic downturn.
There have been calls for the Government to review its manpower policies by granting fewer employment passes.
Other calls are for local workers to view foreigners as collaborators and not competitors, in various letters to ST's forum.
Retail banks told The Straits Times that local workers make up a sizeable portion of their workforce in technology and risk management, areas Mr Menon said could be improved.
United Overseas Bank head of group human resources Dean Tong said eight in 10 of its employees in these teams are Singaporeans or PRs.
A DBS Bank spokesman said citizens and PRs make up nearly 95 per cent of its risk management team and 85 per cent of its technology and operations team.
An OCBC Bank spokesman said 84 per cent of its employees in technology and risk management are citizens and PRs.
The banks added that they have initiatives in place to ensure a strong pipeline of local talent.