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New employment pass to attract top tech entrepreneurs will not put locals at a disadvantage, says Singapore minister

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The new pass will allow such talent the flexibility to work across different companies or start up companies in Singapore. ― Reuters pic via TODAY
The new pass will allow such talent the flexibility to work across different companies or start up companies in Singapore. ― Reuters pic via TODAY

SINGAPORE, Nov 12 — A new kind of employment pass, aimed at attracting the very best of international tech talent, is being rolled out here.

The new pass will allow such talent the flexibility to work across different companies or start up companies in Singapore. 

Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing announced the Tech.Pass today during a meeting with members of the European Chamber of Commerce.

This pass is different from existing employment passes as it does not require the person to be employed by or tied to a particular company to qualify.

For instance, Chan said that global tech leaders like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft founder Bill Gates “probably would not qualify for the employment pass if they were just starting up, before they had Facebook and Microsoft”. 

To qualify for the Tech.Pass, the authorities will not just “look at someone’s credentials in terms of their (academic) qualifications, but really their track record of how they have contributed to the global tech ecosystem”, he added. 

Applications for the pass — which is an extension of the Tech@SG program launched last year to support high-potential companies here — will open in January, with 500 places available. 

Addressing questions that this new scheme will mean that local talents will face stiffer competition for top jobs, Chan said that the Tech.Pass will place foreign talents in a “different category” from employment pass holders. 

“This is not about replacing the locals These are the entrepreneurs that we want,” he said.

“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 global system so that this will strengthen ourselves as a tech hub for the region, if not for the world,” he added. 

Besides offering these talents the flexibility to work across different companies or set up their own, the Tech.Pass will also provide its holders the opportunity to invest and serve on the board of directors of various Singapore companies, lead teams in Singapore and be a consultant or mentor in local start-ups and universities to groom talent. 

To be eligible for the Tech.Pass, candidates must meet two out of the following three criteria: 

― Have a last drawn fixed monthly salary (in the last year) of at least S$20,000 (RM61,292).

― Have at least five cumulative years of experience in a leading role in a tech company with a valuation or market capitalisation of at least US$500 million or at least US$30 million funding and beyond.

― Have 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 active users or at least US$100 million revenue. For example, a leading role could mean having made major contributions to the design, development and deployment of a tech product. ― TODAY

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