Why does the government plan 500 tech passes amidst anti-foreigner sentiments?

anti-foreigner sentiments Tech.Pass EDB MOM

With the anti-foreigner sentiments exacerbated by the pandemic, why is the government issuing 500 tech passes? Is it to make themselves more unpopular?

Not at all.

The new Tech.Pass is a response to the stiff competition for tech talent. It is a much needed booster to attract top tech talent in a fiercely competitive digital world.

Tech.Pass is not just any talent 

Tech.Pass is a targeted programme to attract founders, leaders and technical experts with experience in established or fast-growing tech companies.

It is an extension of the Tech@SG programme that was launched in 2019.

The Tech@SG programme anchors and supports the expansion of fast growing tech companies in Singapore. And Tech.Pass facilitates established tech talent to enter and anchor themselves in Singapore, bringing with them their networks and experience to benefit the local tech ecosystem.

Chan Chun Sing announcing Tech.Pass scheme
Trade & Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing announcing the Tech.Pass Scheme during his meeting with Eurocham members
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How does it benefit local tech talent?

By anchoring fast growing tech companies with high potential here, and by facilitating the entry of established tech talent, it will help to develop a strong base of technology companies. This will help ensure Singapore remains globally competitive. In turn, this will also create more for local tech talent to work alongside top tech talent from all over the world.

Does it increase the competition for local tech talent?

The Tech.Pass is in a completely different category altogether.

It is not tied to employment. In other words, a Tech.Pass holder need not be employed by a particular company in order to qualify. He does not need to be tied to one company.

The pass allows such talent the flexibility to work across different companies or start-up companies in Singapore.

They are entrepreneurs

As Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said, these are the entrepreneurs want.

To quote him, here’s what he said:

“This is not about replacing the locals… These are the entrepreneurs that we want. It is not about working for one particular company to take the locals’ jobs — this is a totally different kettle of fish altogether.” “The Tech.Pass holders will bring with them not just the knowledge and networks, but also the kind of contacts that they have across the entire system… so that this will strengthen ourselves as a tech hub for the region, if not for the world.”

How is a Tech.Pass different from an Employment Pass?

While the minimum qualifying for an employment pass is $4500 ($5000 for financial services), the bar for a tech pass is considerably higher.

A Tech.Pass applicant must satisfy two of the following conditions.

He/She must have:

A last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last 1 year) of at least S$20,000.

At least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation/market cap of at least US$500mil or at least US$30mil funding raised.

At least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in the development of a tech product that has at least 100,000 monthly users or at least US$100mil annual revenue.

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Tech.Pass holders will help to groom talent here

A Tech.Pass holder can also invest in and serve on the board of directors of various companies, lead teams in Singapore and be a consultant or mentor in start-ups and universities here to groom talent.

Lawrence Loh from NUS Business School describes the planned 500-odd Tech.Pass holders as ‘queen bees’ who will create jobs and multiply for economic growth.

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