AI scientists, carbon traders: EP applicants for jobs in shortage to get bonus points under new system
The Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) will apply to new Employment Pass applications from Sep 1.
SINGAPORE: Novel food biotechnologist, carbon trader and AI scientist - these are three emerging jobs that are hard to fill, and that Singapore companies need.
They are among a list of 27 jobs facing shortages that has been published ahead of the implementation of a new points system for Employment Pass (EP) application in Singapore.
The Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS), which MOM announced last year, is a points-based system to evaluate the extent an EP candidate complements Singapore's workforce. It will apply to new EP applications from Sep 1 this year.
MOM published on Friday (Mar 31) more details on how firms can meet the COMPASS criteria, including a Shortage Occupation List.
It also released a list of educational institutions that are “top-tier institutions” for a criterion on qualifications, and the programmes or conditions firms have to be meet to score bonus COMPASS points - all of which aim to give firms that intend to recruit EP holders more clarity for their hiring.
The jobs on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) require highly specialised skills currently in shortage in the local workforce, said MOM.
The ministry added that the assessment is based on quantitative data, such as MOM’s Jobs Vacancies Report, to understand which roles are hard to fill due to a skills shortage in Singapore's local workforce, as well as qualitative assessments from sector agencies and tripartite partners.
The jobs also need to have "strategic importance to Singapore’s economic priorities".
The ministry emphasised that one key consideration for placing an occupation on the SOL is a strong commitment by the sector agency to work with industry to develop the local pipeline to address these shortages over time.
The government is also working with education and training institutes, and tripartite partners to train local graduates and reskill mid-career workers for these jobs.
“However, given our limited local workforce and worldwide competition for talent, the demand for skilled roles will also need to be met by complementary foreign manpower,” said MOM.
Currently, the minimum qualifying salary for new EP applicants is S$5,000. For the financial sector, the salary benchmark is set higher at S$5,500.
Under the new framework, EP candidates will also be evaluated along six criteria, and scored 0, 10 or 20 points according to how they fulfil them. They need a minimum of 40 points to pass.
The four basic criteria considered are the applicant’s salary, his or her qualifications, the share of the candidate’s nationality among firm’s PMETs and the firm’s support for local employment.
For example, under the new criterion for diversity, a firm scores 20 points if the EP candidate’s nationality among the firm’s PMETs is less than 5 per cent, 10 points if it is 5 to less than 25 per cent, and 0 if it’s 25 per cent or more.
There are also two bonus criteria, one of which is the skills bonus. EP applicants filling an occupation on the SOL can earn 20 bonus points on COMPASS.
But this is reduced to 10 points if the share of candidate’s nationality among the firm’s PMETs is one-third or higher.
For EP applicants who require the SOL bonus points to pass COMPASS, MOM will also conduct additional checks, such as checking on their past work experience and whether he or she has the qualifications, or industry accreditation relevant to the declared occupation.
And if such applicants are approved, they will have their employment restricted to the occupation applied for. This means that if their employer wishes to redeploy the EP holder to a different job role, the EP holder’s eligibility will be reassessed, said MOM.
Shortage Occupation List
1 Alternative protein food application scientist
2 Novel food biotechnologist
3 Financial/investment adviser (ultra-high/high net worth, family office & philanthropy)
4 Carbon project/program manager
5 Carbon standards and methodology analyst
6 Carbon trader
7 Carbon verification and audit specialist
8 Clinical psychologist
9 Diagnostic radiographer
10 Occupational therapist
12 Registered nurse Infocomm
13 AI scientist/engineer
14 Applications/systems programmer
15 Cloud specialist
16 Cyber risk specialist
17 Cybersecurity architect
18 Cybersecurity operations specialist
19 Data scientist
20 Digital forensics specialist
21 Penetration testing specialist
22 Product manager (digital)
23 Software and applications manager (technical lead/supervisor)
24 Software developer
25 Web and mobile applications developer
26 Marine superintendent
27 Marine technical superintendent
Responding to CNA's queries about the inclusion of financial/investment advisers for global ultra-high or high net worth individuals and family offices on the SOL, a spokesperson from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that the demand for such advisers has outstripped the supply locally.
According to MAS’ surveys, the number of financial/ investment advisers serving this segment is estimated to have grown by about 20 per cent per annum over the past two years, and there remain unfilled vacancies where financial institutions have indicated that they have faced difficulty in finding experienced candidates for, said MAS.
"These professionals need to possess overseas market expertise, understand cultural context, and be able to see synergies between the clients’ personal wealth and interests, and business ventures, especially given the increasing interest to channel wealth and capital to tackle environmental and social issues," the spokesperson added.
MAS said that government agencies will continue to work with the industry to develop locals to acquire niche skills, market knowledge, and experience to enable them to take on such roles over time.
On the tech roles on the SOL, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) said that tech skills continue to be in high demand both within and beyond the information and communications sector, as seen from MOM’s Job Vacancies Report 2022 released on Thursday.
"Tech roles including software developers continue to be in demand as ongoing digitalisation trends have led to sustained demand for tech skills. The wide variety of software languages used and required by companies within the (information and communications) sector and the wider economy also drives the demand for software developers," said IMDA.
CNA has contacted other agencies for more details on some of the jobs on the list.
BONUS POINTS FOR SEP FIRMS
Firms can get a further 10 bonus points for each EP submitted through the Strategic Economic Priorities (SEP) Bonus, which recognises firms undertaking ambitious investment, innovation, internationalisation, or company and workforce transformation activities.
To qualify for this, the firm must participate in one of the eligible programmes run by agencies and demonstrate commitment to developing the local workforce. Supported firms will be notified by MOM from end-July 2023.
There are a total of 15 programmes for this criteria, including the Economic Development Board's Development and Expansion Incentive, and approved International Shipping Enterprise Award recipients by the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.
These firms will receive the SEP Bonus for up to three years. To continue receiving the bonus after three years, they have to score at least 10 points on the two COMPASS criteria for diversity and support for local employment.
A third list published on Friday by MOM relates to the criterion for qualifications, which gives candidates from top-tier institutions 20 points. Those with a degree-equivalent qualification get half that, or 10 points.
The top-tier institutions include the top 100 universities based on QS World University Rankings, and other highly reputed universities in Asia, Singapore’s autonomous universities and institutions that are highly recognised in a particular field.
MOM said that it will provide the lists on its website and a calculator for companies to assess the number of points they and their candidates can get under COMPASS.
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said on Friday that the SOL helps to ensure that foreign talent is more targeted and focused in occupations that require highly specialised skills that are currently in shortage in the local workforce.
Mr Tay, who is also co-chair of the NTUC-SNEF PME Taskforce, said that the new COMPASS framework provides "a more transparent, fairer and targeted approach" for bringing in complementary foreign talent.
"I also urge our local PMEs to use this list as an opportunity, to understand which occupations in our economy which are in demand and to develop and obtain the necessary skillsets needed to be employable in such occupations," he said in a Facebook post.
"I encourage companies too, to continue to invest in training for our workers so that they can upskill and reskill jobs."