Singapore | COMPASS Update

The Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) is a new points-based framework that considers individual and firm-related attributes to holistically evaluate an Employment Pass (EP) applicant’s complementarity to Singapore’s workforce. COMPASS provides firms with clarity and predictability for workforce planning and recognizes efforts to develop a robust local pipeline and a diverse foreign workforce. It will apply to new EP applications from September 1, 2023, and to EP renewal applications from September 1, 2024, respectively. An overview of COMPASS is in Annex A.

On March 31, 2023, the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released further details on COMPASS, namely:

  • Qualifications (Criterion 2)
  • Skills Bonus (Criterion 5)
  • Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Criterion 6)
Qualifications (Criterion 2)

The employer is responsible for ensuring that the candidate’s qualifications are authentic and were awarded by accredited institutions.

MOM provided a list of top-tier institutions where the EP candidates will earn 20 points on COMPASS Criterion 2 for a bachelor’s degree and above qualifications earned from the following top-tier institutions:

  • For Group A institutions, 20 points are awarded for degrees from all faculties
  • For Group B institutions, 20 points are awarded only for degrees from specific faculties

EP candidates holding degree-equivalent qualifications will earn 10 points on COMPASS.

Degree-equivalent qualifications generally refer to:

  • Foreign qualifications that are assessed to be comparable to a bachelor’s degree in the UK system (MOM determines this with reference to international recognition bodies, e.g., the UK National Information Centre for recognition and evaluation of international qualifications and skills (UK ENIC)).
  • Professional qualifications that are well-recognized by the industry and endorsed by a relevant sector agency.

Candidates who do not hold degree-equivalent qualifications can still pass COMPASS by earning sufficient points on other criteria.


Erickson Insights

From September 2023, employers must submit third-party verification proof for applicants with diploma-level qualifications and above for new EP applications.

The requirement for EP renewal applications comes into effect in September 2024; hence, it may be prudent for the existing EP candidates whose passes will expire on/after September 2024, to begin with the verification proof by early next year.


Skills Bonus (Criterion 5)

The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) recognizes EP applicants in occupations that require highly specialized skills currently in shortage in the local workforce. EP applicants filling an occupation on the SOL can earn up to 20 bonus points on COMPASS.

The inaugural SOL is listed in Annex B. The SOL will be reviewed every three years, but MOM will retain the flexibility to add or remove occupations annually if required by market conditions.

For EP applicants who require the SOL bonus points to pass COMPASS, MOM will impose additional safeguards, namely:

  1. MOM will conduct additional checks on the applicants, such as their past work experience and whether the applicant has the qualifications or industry accreditation relevant to the declared occupation.
  2. If approved, the applicants will be restricted to the specific shortage occupation. This means that if their employer wishes to redeploy the EP holder to a different job role, the EP holder will be subject to a reassessment of their eligibility for an EP.


Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Criterion 6)

The Strategic Economic Priorities (SEP) Bonus recognizes firms undertaking ambitious investment, innovation, internationalization, or company and workforce transformation activities. Firms receiving the SEP bonus will be awarded 10 bonus points on COMPASS for each EP application submitted.

To qualify for the SEP Bonus, firms must be supported by sector agencies or the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). To be considered, firms must participate in one of the eligible programs run by agencies listed in Annex C and demonstrate commitment to developing the local workforce. MOM will notify supported firms from end-July 2023.

Supported firms will receive the SEP Bonus for up to three years. To continue receiving the SEP bonus after three years, firms are required to meet expectations on the COMPASS firm-related criteria, Diversity (Criterion 3), and Support for Local Employment (Criterion 4).

These bonus criteria allow EP applicants who possess skills in shortage, and firms that contribute to Singapore’s strategic economic priorities, to earn bonus points towards their total COMPASS score. These bonus points help companies secure the complementary foreign workforce necessary to seize economic opportunities in the immediate term, recognizing that there are limits to the local workforce.

MOM’s website is regularly updated with the latest information on COMPASS. Firms can also access the Workforce Insights tool on MyMOM Portal to understand their performance on the firm-related criteria of COMPASS and benchmark their performance against industry peers.