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Rationales and Constraints of Managers When Hiring Foreign Workers in Singapore: A Study of the Manufacturing and Manufacturing Related Services Sectors

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posted on 2020-08-10, 17:53 authored by Khemmanit WATTANATINNACHOT, Yee Whah ChinYee Whah Chin
The paper provides understanding of managers’ rationales and constraints when hiring foreign workers in the manufacturing and manufacturing related services sectors in Singapore. Using purposive and quota sampling methods, the study covers in-depth interviews with 25 managers from multinational companies from Singapore’s five leading industries, in the manufacturing sector and manufacturing related services sector. Analysing qualitative data from the structuration perspective show that managers’ choices are shaped by the changing foreign labour policy that limit the hiring of foreign workers from specific countries according to different levels of skills. Reasons for hiring unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled foreign workers vary which ranging from ‘blended low labour cost’ to shortage of domestic labour, right attitude to work, skill mismatch of domestic labour, high salary demands by domestic labour, accreditation and innovation capability, and relevant knowledge, skills and language proficiency. As the dependency ratio for foreign workers continue to narrow, in the near future, managers would have to search for limited skilled workers within the Singapore’s domestic labour market. The post-pandemic Covid-19 crisis would disrupt the future demand for unskilled foreign workers as the adoption of automation would increase and managers would have to readapt to the new economic scenario.




Declaration of conflicts of interest

We declare that we do not have any competing financial, professional, or personal interests from other parties.

Corresponding author email


Lead author country

  • Malaysia

Lead author job role

  • Higher Education Researcher

Lead author institution

Universiti Sains Malaysia

Human Participants

  • Yes

Ethics statement

Respondents were informed the purpose of the study and agreed to participate in the research. Identity of respondents are protected by using pseudonyms.


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