After 2015, new arrivals of first-time Bangladeshi workers appear to have fallen off quite dramatically — this was the main finding of a study done in August and September 2018. Interviews were conducted with 106 Bangladeshi workers and each was asked the year of his first arrival in Singapore. We found unusually few who first arrived in 2016, 2017, 2018.

While the study did not have enough detail to explain why there was this fall-off in new arrivals, the report discusses several possible explanations. The one that immediately came to mind was that recruitment cost for first-time workers has now climbed so high, it has become largely unaffordable.

Other questions in the interviews revealed that Bangladeshi workers stay with an employer not more than two years on average. There does not seem to be much employment stability.

Moreover, we found that workers often did not do the same type of work when they changed employers. 57% of respondents said they never did the same kind of work at subsequent employers. A man we spoke with recently was casting concrete beams for one employer and making furniture for the next. This ‘vocation churn’ is not good news for Singapore’s aim to improve productivity in the construction sector. Workers do not acquire enough skills and experience in a particular trade.

The report can be downloaded by clicking the icon at right.