O citizens and permanent residents, where art thou?

September 12, 2010 at 4:44 am 23 comments

So now I own two restaurants. The existing branch at One Raffles Place and a brand new one at 8 Queen Street. The first restaurant is open, the other is not.

While the renovations for the new restaurant are complete, I am unable to open because I simply can not find local service staff.

The restaurant at 8 Queen Street (8QSAM) is under a new company. Singapore dictates a new company must hire only citizens and permanent residents for the first 3 months. After 3 months of paying the Central Provident Fund (CPF), a company is then able to hire foreigners based on a ratio of number of citizens / PRs employed to foreigner employed.

I read about how people are worried that foreigners will be taking jobs from Singaporeans. Maybe in some industries that’s true but in the food & beverage sector it is not.

Last week I placed an ad via CATS (the classified ads system for Singapore Press Holdings). The job ad ran in the Straits Times classifieds over the weekend and also online via ST701.com.

I had 95 people respond to that job ad – 95 people that wanted a service crew position.

Guess how many were Singapore citizens?


Two out of the ninety-five applicants were Singapore permanent residents. Only one showed up for an interview.

A few months ago I placed an ad with JobsDB. Similar results – out of something like 230 applicants only 4 were Singapore citizens or permanent residents.

This is crippling for a new small business.


Suggestion: Rather than require new companies to start off by hiring only citizens / permanent residents, allow them to hire foreigners also. Give a year (or two) for the company to hire enough citizens to accommodate the ratio required by the Ministry of Manpower.


Entry filed under: Legal, Staffing, Starting-up.

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23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. suzie  |  September 13, 2010 at 11:42 am

    hey, you might want to try getting kids out of the local polytechnics or junior colleges. do they have to be full time and permanent staff? you see local kids overstaffing every single starbucks, i’m sure they’d be put to better use at your new place. try campus bulletin boards (including the local universities) and those notice boards outside quite a few cold storage supermarkets.

    • 2. stand4sushi  |  October 20, 2010 at 12:46 am

      Thanks for the suggestion! I’m looking for the internal school board links for job postings. I found the SMU one and that helped quite a lot. Would you happen to know the poly ones?

  • 3. cflee  |  September 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Yep, I think students look in different places for jobs. I know, I really don’t ever read ST Classifieds.. maybe jobsdb sometimes. But IF you want students you probably won’t get them via CATS.

    • 4. stand4sushi  |  September 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      Yeah, that’s what I have learned. The difficulty for me is that I don’t have access to a lot of the school bulletin board postings. Been trying to find out how to post jobs that will be seen by the Poly and Uni students but so far have only found SMU’s bulletin board.

  • 5. Rachael  |  September 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    i’m facing the same problem as well, even though we’re well in a different industry. It’s very frustrating to hire staff. I really hope something can be done..

  • 6. daniel  |  September 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Hi Howard. Why don’t you register the two outlets under one company, you will then be able to get more foreign workers.
    Not sure if you can change your lease agreement and de-register

  • 7. Damien  |  September 14, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Hey, you should be able to send an appeal in to MOM to get them to remove/reduce the 3 months waiting time.

    I just enquired for a similar issue recently and they told me to send in a company letter explaining the situation. Didn’t promise anything but the officer in charge sounded quite positive over the phone.

    Hope this helps and good luck!

  • 8. Adeline  |  September 14, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    Hi, you should do as Damien advised and send in a letter of appeal to the Ministry of Manpower, they do make exceptions on a case by case basis especially if you have valid reasons to substantiate your case (you have run your advert and there were just no suitable candidates).

    Labour regulations need to be pro-business too and who knows perhaps MOM can link you up with their in-house department that helps displaced workers find jobs. Alternatively, try offering or partnering up with SHATEC for internship positions at your restaurant.

    Good luck and I hope your branch at Queen Street opens soon! (“,)

  • 9. Daily SG: 24 Sep 2010 « The Singapore Daily  |  September 24, 2010 at 11:22 am

    […] in a Strange Land – Standing Sushi Bar: O citizens and permanent residents, where art thou? [via […]

  • 10. Cecilia  |  September 24, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    We have the same problem for so many y-e-a-r-s; and now we pay hefty levies for each Malaysian we employ cos the locals are simply not interested.
    Often, they do not turn up for interviews. When employed, they tend to quit after one day on the job ! And we thot it’s better to employ aunties (in their 40s or 50s) but they want to work only specific hours :-(( We agree to their hours; the aunties agreed that the pay is above market. And still they leave shotly after.
    You face a tough problem & high turnover cos the english-speaking singaporeans (ie younger people) are not willing to work in the service/F&B industries.
    Good luck

    • 11. stand4sushi  |  September 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      Yes! I’m amazed at how often they don’t even show up for the interview after agreeing to come, or they set a starting date and then message right before they’re supposed to arrive that they have decided they don’t want to work.

  • 12. valen  |  September 25, 2010 at 3:35 am

    Howard, if I might ask, how much are you paying:?

    • 13. stand4sushi  |  September 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

      Generally for the part-time staff it’s 6.50 SGD an hour, depending on experience.

  • 14. rey  |  September 25, 2010 at 4:45 am

    lol. why dont u just increase the wages. im sure the right people will respond if the price is right.

  • 15. Cecilia  |  September 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    nah, increasing wages doesn’t work.

    for weekends, we pay higher than $6.50 hourly and we still face problems. it’s not entirely the $. the locals just do not have the service mentality in them. they are waiting for the dream job to drop from the sky.

  • 16. ryisse  |  October 2, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    For getting locals, you could try contacting the five CDCs, Community Development Councils, which have job-matching schemes. http://www.cdc.org.sg/

    • 17. stand4sushi  |  October 20, 2010 at 12:48 am

      Oh, that’s quite an interesting suggestion. I wasn’t aware of this. Shall look into it. Thank you!

  • 18. Roberto  |  October 4, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Since you are on Queen street, SMU students might be your best bet.

    • 19. stand4sushi  |  October 20, 2010 at 12:47 am

      Heh, for sure, and now SMU students make up like 90% of our part-time staff.

  • 20. kiwi  |  October 4, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Frank, I’ve friends in SIM. If you need, maybe I can help to ask around. Btw, if you’re taking students, make sure you have a bigger groups so that it makes your staffing easier as most probably able to work like 1 to 3 days at most depending on working hours.

    • 21. stand4sushi  |  October 20, 2010 at 12:47 am

      Hi Kiwi, thanks for offering to help! Sure, if you could help spread the word that we’re hiring, please just let them know to contact howard@standingsushibar.com.

  • 22. Jamie  |  October 20, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    hey howard, completely feel you on this one. went down to MOM and they mentioned we could possibly get a waiver on the 3 months if we wrote in. but i’m just doing the usual jobstreet/ craigslist/ gumtree for now… it’s a continuous battle. good luck! will stop by soon to check out the new outlet

  • 23. ANILA PARMAR  |  December 2, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    hi i want work with your staff but, you have no quota. please try to apply my pass. i can do work hardly. this is possible. ?


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Standing Sushi Bar

Join us at our branches in Singapore's fast-paced Raffles Place business district or unwind in our flagship branch located in the Bras Basah Arts & Historic neighborhood. High-quality, healthy, affordable dining. Open at Marina Bay Link Mall and 8 Queen Street!



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