The government of Singapore is an ambitious one, hoping to increase the population to 6.5 million, up from the current 4.5 million. They welcome immigrants, especially professional educated individuals, as well as encouraging the nation’s citizenry to breed, baby, breed. They’ve also just revealed a forward-thinking option to encourage visiting foreigners to get jobs and stay in the country for six months.
From “Work-on-holiday plan to draw foreign talent” by Li Xueying in the 19 May 2007 edition of The Straits Times (electronic version locked behind a subscription wall):
Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday announced the scheme, called the “Work Holiday Programme” (WHP), which will begin from Dec 1.
It is open to undergraduates and graduates between the ages of 17 and 30 from universities in eight economies — Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.
The programme essentially allows any of these young people on holiday here to look for a job and stay on for six months.
“A positive experience of living and working in Singapore would encourage some of them to work here when they graduate, or at a later stage of their careers.”
Speaking at a ceremony for new doctors, Dr Ng said that in the global race for talent, there is a need to “poitively shape international opinion of Singapore and raise our profile.”
The WHP pass will not restrict its holder to any specific type of work or a minimum salary requirement.
This is in contrast to, say, the Employment Pass (EP) which requires a foreigner to have a fixed monthly salary of at least S$2,500 and an acceptable degree, professional qualification or specialist skills.
WHP holders must, however, be able to support themselves during their stay here and show proof of exit after six months.
Part of the Vagabonding ethic is being able to take off a large chunk of time for travel, and a good way to support yourself in-country is by working there. This could take the form of waiting tables, or construction work, or teaching English, but with a six-month window, the possibilities expand dramatically. (Plus, Singapore is an ideal jumping-off point for travel to Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, India, Australia, Indonesia, and the many other countries in the region.)
This is also a very progressive move, in that there’s no immediate pay-off. The government is banking on the fact that foreign visitors will be so wowed by Singapore’s allure during their time here that they’ll want to come back sometime later; I know I was, and did. It’s a very long-tail approach to foreign recruitment, and I’m interested to see in the years ahead how successful it will be.
More information about the Work Holiday Programme can be found at Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower website.