The government of Singapore has been encouraging private and public enterprises to prioritise local talents at the time of hiring and career progression. Citizens should have the first right to every resource of a nation and only then should expats and others be in consideration. This is often an obvious expectation but is not always met, especially in countries like Singapore where expats are perceived as favourites for many types of jobs and key positions. It is indeed true that many companies and especially the local offices of regional or global corporations still hire expat staff as a preference.

It has been observed that hiring expat staff is costlier than hiring citizens. Sourcing local talents is easier. Citizens do not need to move and hence relocation costs are almost nonexistent. Expats are often from high income countries and larger economies. They expect better salaries and are often sated with the offers they get. There will always be a debate over who should be prioritized and if citizens should be given first preference regardless of preconditions. What merit a discussion are the reasons why companies are still hiring expat staff in Singapore.

  • Value addition is one of the key reasons why companies prefer expat staff. While expatriates may demand a better pay and some more benefits than citizens of Singapore, they often bring more to the table. Companies usually consider the unit labour cost as opposed to simply calculating the cost to company on the basis of salary, incentives and other benefits. If an expat delivers more and hence has a better impact on the revenues of a company, then the organisation will certainly not mind paying more. Citizens or local talents who offer the same value addition are treated equally but those who may work for less but not add much value are overlooked.
  • Expats have more exposure than local talents. Many expats have worked in more than one country. The familiarity with different work cultures, global network of associates and clients, awareness of best practices in the industry and the ability to see the larger picture work in favour of expats. Local talents may have the technical skills but might lack the soft skills. Some may have the soft skills too but not the vision to take up a leadership role. These are rather quintessential factors that are taken into consideration by companies while comparing local and expat staff. Companies will hire the best individuals regardless of their nationality.
  • Many global and regional brands parachute their preferred executives from their headquarters or other international offices to Singapore. This is an attempt to groom their own talents so they can get exposed to the Singaporean market, learn more about the ASEAN region and be more effective at contributing to the fortunes of their respective organisations. This is simply a business practice or a company policy and has nothing to do with local or expat staff. There is no bias against citizens of Singapore and no undue preference for expats.

About the Author

Morris Edwards is a content writer at, he writes different topics like How job titles can help you hire great talent,Reasons to hire a Bookkeeper  and all topics related to Singapore Business and Economy. For more info about Company Incorporation  in Singapore visit our website.

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