The Ministry of Manpower has introduced COMPASS, a new point-based framework designed to evaluate the eligibility of foreign candidates for the Singapore Employment Pass (EP). This framework aims to facilitate the selection of high-quality foreign professionals by employers in Singapore, promoting workforce diversity while concurrently strengthening the Singaporean core.
Starting from September 1, 2023, all new EP applications will be assessed using this framework, and renewal applications will follow suit from September 1, 2024.
COMPASS assesses EP applications based on four foundational criteria: Salary, Qualifications, Diversity, and Support for Local Employment. Additionally, two bonus criteria are included to recognize applications that bring in skills not readily available in Singapore and support strategic economic priorities, resulting in job creation for Singaporeans.
Points are awarded for each foundational criterion based on whether the application meets or exceeds expectations.
Points for each foundational criterion Assessment: 20-Exceeds expectations, 10-Meets expectations, 0-Does not meet expectations
To qualify for the EP, a candidate must achieve a total score of 40 points from the four foundational criteria or obtain points under the bonus criteria.
|C1. Salary (Individual)
Fixed monthly salary compared to local professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) salaries in sector by age
|More than or equals 90th percentile
|65th to less than 90th percentile
|Less than 65th percentile
|C2. Qualification (Individual)
Based on candidate’s qualifications
|C3. Diversity (Firm-related)
Share of candidate’s nationality among firm’s PMETs.*
|Less than 5%
|5 to less than 255
|More than or equals to 25%
|C4. Support for local employment (Firm-related)
Firm’s share of local PMETs within its sector*
|More than or equals to 50th percentile
|20th to less than 50th percentile
|Less than 20th percentile
|C5. Skills Bonus – Shortage Occupation List (Individual)
|Job on the Shortage Occupation List
|C6. Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Firm-related)
|Firm meets specific assessment criteria on investment, innovation, internationalisation, or company and workforce transformation activities
*Small firms with fewer than 25 PMET employees are awarded 10 points by default for C3 and C4. PMETs are defined as employees earning at least SGD 3,000 per month.
#Skills bonus is reduced to +10 if the share of candidate’s nationality among the firm’s PMETs is one-third or higher.
All applicants must meet the EP qualifying salary. The COMPASS framework accounts for salary norms specific to each sector, considering age adjustments. Points are awarded when applicants meet sector-specific benchmarks for local PMET salaries.
Employers are responsible for ensuring the authenticity of the applicant’s qualifications, which must be obtained from accredited institutions. Top-tier institutions include internationally ranked universities, highly reputed universities across various regions, Singapore’s Autonomous Universities, and vocational institutions highly recognized in specific fields. Degree-equivalent qualifications encompass foreign qualifications assessed to be comparable to a bachelor’s degree in the UK system, as determined by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) with reference to recognized international bodies. Additionally, professional qualifications endorsed by relevant sector agencies and widely recognized by the industry are considered. While qualifications are not mandatory under COMPASS, candidates without degree-equivalent qualifications can still pass by earning sufficient points in other criteria.
COMPASS encourages firms to foster a diverse mix of nationalities among their employees, contributing to a more inclusive and resilient workforce by enriching firms with new ideas and networks. Points are awarded to applications where the candidate’s nationality represents a small share of the company’s PMET employees. MOM considers all employees earning at least SG$3,000 per month as PMETs when assessing this criterion. By default, firms employing fewer than 25 PMETs score 10 points for C3.
Support for Local Employment
COMPASS recognizes firms that actively create opportunities for the local workforce, building complementary teams comprising both local and foreign professionals. Points are awarded to firms with a high proportion of locals among their PMETs compared to other firms in the same subsector. If a firm’s local PMET share is at least 70% (pegged to the 20th percentile of firms economy-wide), it will receive a minimum of 10 points, regardless of its position within the subsector. This ensures that firms in subsectors with a relatively high share of local PMET employees are not penalized.
Skills Bonus (Shortage Occupation List)
The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) acknowledges EP holders in occupations requiring highly specialized skills that are currently lacking in the local workforce. The SOL is determined through a comprehensive evaluation process, considering industry needs and efforts in local workforce development. This may include roles supporting Singapore’s digitalization drive within niche info comm-related areas.
Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus
COMPASS recognizes companies engaged in ambitious innovation or internationalization activities in partnership with the government, aligned with Singapore’s economic priorities. These companies should have the scale or potential to provide good jobs for locals. To qualify, firms must participate in selected programs by economic agencies or meet specific assessment criteria, demonstrating commitment to developing the local workforce or ecosystem.
Exemption from COMPASS
EP applications are exempted from COMPASS if the candidate fulfills any of the following conditions:
• Earning a fixed monthly salary of at least SG$20,000 (similar to the prevailing Fair Consideration Framework job advertising exemption).
• Applying as an overseas intra-corporate transferee under the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services or an applicable Free Trade Agreement that Singapore is a party to.
• Filling a short-term role, lasting one month or less.
Do contact us to find out more about your eligibility.
If you have any company-related queries, you may email us at [email protected]. When in doubt, seek legal advice or consult an experienced licensed Employment Agency with the Ministry of Manpower.
The editorial team at Singapore Employment Agency
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Little Big Employment Agency Pte Ltd is a licensed Employment Agency with the Ministry of Manpower with license number 19C9790.