Split on right balance of foreign workers

CITIZENS are divided on whether the nation has struck the right balance in bringing in foreign workers and protecting local jobs, with about 40% agreeing, 44% disagreeing and the rest not knowing enough to answer, an online survey shows.

It also found that younger respondents were more likely to agree that Singapore had found the right balance, but this number slid with age.

The survey of 1,000 Singaporeans and permanent residents on Forward Singapore topics was commissioned by The Straits Times and conducted by consumer research firm Milieu Insight in September.

The topics included economy and jobs, health and social support, home and living environment, and education and lifelong learning.

NUS College vice-dean of special programmes and sociologist Daniel Goh said younger Singaporeans are more receptive to messaging from the government on this topic, as they experience the need for openness in the workplace and in schools.

“They also get to know more foreigners and understand how much is shared between them, such as the aspiration for good lives for their future families and the global cosmopolitan culture,” he added.

In contrast, the older generation faced the toughest competition and displacement in the labour market in the decades of immigration in the 1990s and 2000s, when attention to the protection of local jobs was not as strong as it is today.

Older workers are likely concerned about their prospects for re-employment. — The Straits Times/ANN

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