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SINGAPORE To ensure that Employment Pass (EP) applicants are not granted work passes based on fake qualifications, employers will need to provide third-party verification of their diploma and higher qualifications from Sept 1, 2023.

The move coincides with the Sept 1 launch of a new points-based framework for new EP applications called Complementarity Assessment (Compass).

This is because an EP applicants qualifications will contribute to his Compass score, which will determine whether he is awarded the work pass, said Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng during the debate for the Ministry of Manpowers (MOM) budget on Wednesday.

Under Compass, an EP application is scored based on four foundational criteria and two bonus criteria, covering both an applicants and his employers attributes. The workers qualifications are one of the foundational criteria.

The Government, which has consulted industry associations, employers and the labour movement about the verification process, will share more details in due course, said Dr Tan, who is also Second Minister for Trade and Industry. For EP renewals, Compass and the verifying of qualifications will apply from 2024.

Rest assured that we willensure smooth implementation and minimise disruptions toemployers hiring process, the minister said.

The move is poised to add another safeguard against fake qualifications, even though employers are already responsible forensuring the authenticity of an applicants credentials, and MOM conducts its own checks. But employers that do not wish to rely on applicants qualifications to add points under Compass do not have to submit the verification.

Dr Tan did not elaborate on whether the added verification could affect the time it takes to process EP applications. Online applications currently take 10 business days. Remote video URL He added that further details on Compass bonus criteria, which pertain to skills held by the applicant that are in shortage in Singapore, and the employers contribution to the Republics strategic economic goals, will be revealed later in March.

The bonus points will cover a targeted minority of strategic EP applications, as the Government expects most applications to obtain a passing score on Compasson the basis of the foundational requirements.

He also announced on Wednesday that employers inservices and manufacturingcan hire only up to 8 per cent of their total workforce under the Non-traditional Source (NTS)Occupation List, and have to pay these work permit holders at least $2,000 a month.

The occupation list, which was revealed in 2022 but kicks in from Sept 1, stipulates seven rank-and-file roles, such as those of cooks in Indian restaurants, for which employers can hire work permit holders instead of S Pass holders from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Typically, employers in the service and manufacturing sectors can hire work permit holders only from China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan.

Dr Tan said the quota guards against over-reliance on workers from NTS countries and regions, and ensures that employers diversify their workforce. The minimum salary safeguards against sourcing just the cheapest talent and encourages employers to hire higher-skilled or more experienced workers, he added. More On This Topic S'pore to launch new work pass to attract global top talent; $30k monthly pay among criteria Firms that drive Spores growth can apply for higher quota of S Pass or work permits Dr Tan on Wednesday also announced CareersFinder, a new feature on the MyCareersFuture online portal that recommends local residents jobs based on their expressed interests, the skills required and the training pathways available.

The artificial intelligence-driven tool will cut out the hassle of figuring what skills one needs for a job posting, and then the separate hunt for training courses.

A beta version is set for launch in the third quarter of 2023, and registration of interest can be made via the Workforce Singapore website.

It will become more powerful as the data grows. We will continue to enhance it over time, to make it more responsive to job seekers needs, said Dr Tan.

As borders reopen after the pandemic and foreign investments flow in, local workers are increasingly coming under heat to both compete with international talent and step up to jobs brought in by multinational enterprises. Remote video URL Dr Tan urged workers to take charge of their own career health by tracking their own job marketability, charting their own development, and being resilient against setbacks.

In return, the ministry will support them every step of the way, he said.

Continuing the ministrys years of work to raise working conditions for female workers, elderly workers, workers with disabilities and former offenders, Dr Tan briefed the House on various schemes and their results in securing fair opportunities for these groups.

These include flexible work arrangement guidelines; wage subsidies for employers that hire the elderly, former offenders and workers with disabilities; and progress towards a workplace fairness Bill.

Another group that has drawn the Governments attention are skilled essential trade workers such as plumbers and electricians.

Our society has traditionally valued head work much more over hands-on and heart work, contributing to occupational wage disparity. But hands-on work the craft required to make something well, to fix a complex machine is just as important for our society to function, he said.

MOM and the National Trades Union Congress are studying ways to make these jobs pay better and offer clearer career and skill progression, with more details to come after the Forward Singapore consultation exercise concludes later in 2023.

This comes after the labour movement mooted in February a new framework to create clear career ladders for essential skilled tradesmen, dubbed the Career Progression Model.

Said Dr Tan: Over time, ifwe are able to shift the prospects and perceptions of such jobs andoffer attractive career pathways for skilled trades, we will beable to increase the number of locals in these roles in asustainable way. Additional reporting by Krist Boo More On This Topic Firms under scheme that allows short-term hiring of more foreign staff must be fair employers: Tan See Leng New model proposed by NTUC to boost salaries and careers of tradesmen like plumbers, electricians

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