Singapore has released details of its new visa scheme for foreign professionals, with a focus on attracting talent in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and agritech.
Nikkei Asia reports that the Employment Pass (EP) scheme, which covers professional managers, executives and specialized workers, will require applicants to score at least 40 points under the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS), which assesses four foundational criteria. Applicants for 27 jobs in six sectors, including fintech and healthcare, can earn up to 20 bonus points.
AI and data scientists wanted
Within the ICT sector, which accounts for almost half the list, the government is seeking more AI and data scientists, cloud and cybersecurity specialists, and software developers. The financial sector is seeking investment advisers for high-net-worth individuals and family offices.
According to the Ministry of Manpower, foreign workers make up a quarter of Singapore’s population of 5.64 million. The country is seeking to attract highly skilled workers as it moves to capture new economic opportunities. Companies will also receive bonus points for contributing to the government’s strategic economic priorities through investments and innovation.
The scheme, which begins on 1 September, also requires hiring companies to show workplace diversity. Employers must ensure their workplaces have diverse backgrounds and substantial Singaporean workers to score high on the diversity criteria.
Significant change for Singapore
The scheme marks a significant change from the previous system, as the focus shifts from an individual’s qualifications to the company’s contribution to the local economy. Companies will need to demonstrate their commitment to developing the local workforce and contributing to the economy.
This is expected to encourage companies to hire and develop local talent and reduce eventually reduce their dependence on foreign workers, said Leonardo Freitas, chairman and managing director of consulting outfit Hayman-Woodward Global Mobility, to Nikkei Asia.
The shortage occupation list will be reviewed every three years, but can be done so annually if needed, to balance flexibility with certainty for businesses.
For businesses that have focused on promoting diversity and local employment, bringing in highly skilled foreign professionals should not be an issue, said Lily Cheang, associate partner and Singapore lead for global immigration at EY Corporate Advisors.
In August of last year, Singapore launched the Overseas Networks and Expertise Pass, aimed at attracting the best tech talent from around the world.