How an open economy benefits the local workforce

In an effort to draw top talent from the world over and foster skills transfer among the local populace, Ministry of Manpower Tan See Leng announced the Overseas Network & Expertise Pass, or the ONE Pass, in a parliamentary sitting on 12 September. 

As an enhancement of the Work Pass, the ONE Pass is aimed at attracting the best of the best in diverse fields, as well as experienced tech professionals in areas of skills shortages, says Mr Tan. 

Such talent is meant to improve the complementarity and diversity of Singapore’s foreign workforce,” he added.

The ONE Pass is aimed at talent earning at least S$30,000 in fixed monthly salary. This translates to about the top 5 percent of employment pass holders, or those with outstanding achievements in arts and culture, sports and research and academia, he added.

In a broader sense, the ONE Pass is part of Singapore’s ambitions to remain a globally attractive economy. 

Mr Tan noted that Australia and the United Arab Emirates have also launched talent visas on their own. 

Due to its small size as well as its strategic location as a gateway connecting the west to Asia, an open economy is integral to Singapore’s growth and success. In August 2021, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung reiterated the need for Singapore to remain open, and the stance “has not and will not change”.

Singapore’s total trade exceeds 300 percent of its gross domestic product, as it continues to build on its trade networks with a wide range of international business partners.

How NTUC helps companies upskill their employees 

While an open economy and attracting the best overseas talent is indeed essential to a country’s labour diversification, there are also ways for Singapore employees to ensure they have the relevant skills needed to be future-ready and competitive for a globalising workforce.

NTUC does this through one of its initiatives – the Company Training Committee (CTC) was launched in April 2019 by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), to boost employee skills through company training.

In March 2022, NTUC launched the $70 million CTC Grant, which targets enterprises with CTC by co-funding their training proposals. The grant is aimed at raising productivity, upskilling workers, redesigning business processes and enabling enterprise transformation.

What is the NTUC CTC Grant?

The grant aims to fulfill the following:

  • Enterprise transformation, through enhanced business capabilities, innovation and/or productivity


  • Workforce transformation, through better career prospects and better wages for local workers, who are Singapore Citizens or Singapore Permanent Residents.


The CTC Grant provides funding of up to 70 percent of the qualifying cost of each CTC project, with funding quantum will be assessed based on the strength of the project, as well as cost of project from worker outcomes perspective.

In order to qualify, applicants need to form a CTC. They will also need to develop a transformation plan and show how the plan leads to better worker and business outcomes, as well as discuss and validate their transformation plan with their CTC senior management representative and their NTUC/Worker representative.


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