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  • Zen Chong

Singapore's 27 professions have been included in the emergency list for applying for employment pass

27 professions are included in the "List of Occupations in Short Supply". If applicants for employment permits work in these industries, they can receive up to 20 points of bonus under the "Complementarity Assessment Framework". Employers who hire them must participate in any one of the 14 projects in the "Strategic Economic Priorities" or establish an Enterprise Training Committee with the National Trades Union Congress, which can also receive an additional 10 points. The Ministry of Manpower announced on Friday (March 31st) the details of the bonus under the "Complementarity Assessment Framework" (COMPASS).

COMPASS has four assessment projects, including the monthly salary and education level of Employment Pass applicants, whether the company's employees come from diverse countries and regions, and whether the employer has hired enough local employees. COMPASS will be implemented from September 1st, and applicants for permits must accumulate at least 40 points in the above four projects. However, if the applicant works in a local professional in short supply, or the company participates in the "Strategic Economic Priorities" project for innovation or globalization, the applicant can receive bonus points to help them cross the score threshold.

The List of Occupations in Short Supply was jointly developed by the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the process referred to the opinions of labor and management tripartite partners and industry organizations. The list will be reviewed once every three years, and the authorities may also adjust the occupations on the list according to market conditions each year. The 27 professions announced on Friday are jobs that the local workforce currently does not have the corresponding skills for or positions that will have a great demand in the present or future. This includes alternative protein food scientists, financial investment advisers (high net worth/ultra-high net worth families and charitable organizations), carbon project managers, clinical psychologists, artificial intelligence scientists/engineers, cloud technology experts, maritime technology directors, etc.

The Ministry of Manpower also emphasized that if applicants for employment permits cannot obtain enough points in the original four assessment projects and need to rely on occupation bonus points to cross the 40-point threshold, the authorities will conduct additional qualification checks on the applicants, such as understanding their qualifications. The work of these people will also be tied to the short-supply profession at the time of application, and if the Employment Pass holder is transferred to a new position, the qualification must be re-evaluated. Employers who join the strategic economic plan of economic organizations or establish an Enterprise Training Committee with the National Trades Union Congress can receive 10 bonus points, which are valid for three consecutive years.

The strategic economic plan projects include the Research Incentive Scheme for Companies of the Economic Development Bureau and the Scale-up SG of the Enterprise Development Bureau. Employers eligible for bonus points under the strategic economic priorities will receive notifications from the Ministry of Manpower by the end of July this year. The Ministry of Manpower also published a list of "Top Universities" online, including universities listed in the QS World Rankings, prestigious Asian universities, local autonomous universities, and schools highly recognized in specific fields. Employment permit applicants who graduate from these universities can receive the highest 20 points under the "Education" project.

Evaluation Framework Q&A

Q: When will the complementary talents evaluation framework be implemented?

A: Starting in September 2023, new applicants for work permits must obtain enough points under the framework. Existing permit holders must obtain the required points by September 2024.

Q: If a work permit applicant does not have a university degree and cannot obtain any points under the "Education" category, does this mean they will not be able to apply for a work permit?

A: The complementary talents evaluation framework does not have a "black and white" veto situation. Even if one category scores zero, as long as the applicant can make up the points in other categories, the application will not be rejected.

Q: Who is exempt from the constraints of the complementary talents evaluation framework for work permit applicants?

A: Those with a monthly salary of more than 20,000 yuan can apply or renew a work permit without obtaining 40 points. This is consistent with the current fair consideration framework, which exempts employers who hire workers with a monthly salary of more than 20,000 yuan from posting job advertisements.

Q: Can a work permit applicant change jobs if they only cross the 40-point threshold by obtaining additional points for "shortage occupations"?

A: The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security stipulates that these individuals must remain in the same occupation as when they applied for the permit. If they are transferred to a new position, they must undergo a re-evaluation of their work permit qualification.

Q: Will the new evaluation framework change the number of people applying for work permits?

A: The complementary talents evaluation framework is not designed to tighten or loosen the work permit system, but to provide more transparency, clarity, and predictability to help employers better understand how to build diverse and complementary teams.

Q: Will the new evaluation framework make the application process longer?

A: Applicants can already determine whether they have obtained enough points under the complementary talents evaluation framework when they submit their application. Some who cannot meet the requirements may not even submit an application, which could speed up the work permit application process.

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