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Wednesday 1 May 2013

Cheaper, Better, Faster ?

The question that has always bothered me is why people think that Singaporeans are losing jobs to foreigners merely because they are cheaper.

Why would an employer hire a foreigner merely because he is cheaper? If he is cheaper but worse, I wouldn't hire him.

At the very least, he needs to be cheaper but just as good.

If he is cheaper AND better, than it's a no brainer.

If Singaporeans are losing jobs because they are more expensive but not better, then the problem lies not with the Manpower Ministry but with Education.

If our education system is churning our workers that cost more but perform worse (or merely as well as a foreigner), than it has serious problems. It is the Ministry of Education that needs to soul search rather than Manpower.

By tweaking manpower policies we may be attacking the symtoms rather than the causes. Wrong medicine for the wrong disease.

We may be barking up the entirely wrong tree.


  1. Any proof that productivity is higher in China, India, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc.. where the major sources of imported labour are from?
    If no, this piece of yours is taking up space and you are better off talking about something you are more familiar with!

    1. If I do the same work as you for lesser the cost in exactly the same time, then I am more productive than you! :)

  2. 70% of SMEs make up the largest portion of Singapore jobs. Unfortunately, these companies have not created enough of high value end jobs for batches of Singapore graduates every year. The matter became worse when these small companies see no incentive competing with GLC-linked companies and thus they tried to save on cost by depressing wages (easier route) since they can't control rental, utilities and freight (for export companies). To add insult to injuries, influx of cheap foreign labours make the matter worse for graduates. SMEs and even GLC see themselves addicted to reckless access to cheap labour to up profit but such revenue was not equally distributed to the citizens who have to struggle with packed train, hike housing and cost of livings caused by massive increase in population. In order to aspire to make end meet, the salary must be in line with man made inflation but the continuous inflow of cheap labour didn't help aspiring citizens as employers see no reason to pay more when there are abundant of cheap labour for grab. Chicken and egg thing. Utlimately such disaster was created by shoddy policies, the main driver is stuck in the mud.

    1. 1. I agree that GLCs need to make way for more SMEs to flourish.

      2. I still don't see why price only matters to an employer with regard to labour. If he hires a monkey for peanuts, his company will only produce monkey results.

  3. Hiring is not a 1+1=2 computation. We need to understand who are the ones making the hiring decisions and what factors are they considering. We have to understand that in the hiring process, its tough to deduce what results the person can delivered. If the SMEs are right in their hiring process, they would have make much more progress over the years.