COMPASS

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So, the allure of working in Singapore has captured your imagination? There are a lot of work passes available for the same. But securing that coveted Employment Pass (EP) just became a tad more intricate with the introduction of COMPASS – the Complementarity Assessment Framework. Launched in September 2023, this point-based system aims to foster a balanced and diverse workforce, making it essential for aspiring professionals to understand its nuances.

But fear not! This blog is your reliable compass, guiding you through the intricacies of the COMPASS maze. We’ll unravel the scoring system, delve into the crucial criteria, and provide you with valuable insights to ace your application.

Basics of COMPASS

COMPASS Application Periods:

  • New EP applications from September 1st, 2023.
  • Existing EP renewals from September 1st, 2024.

Minimum Qualifying Salary:

COMPASS doesn’t replace the industry-specific wage threshold; it complements it.

Scoring Essentials:

Accumulate a minimum of 40 points across six key criteria to pass COMPASS.

Six Pillars of COMPASS

C1: Salary

This criterion compares your candidate’s salary with the local PMET (Professionals, Managers, Executives, and Technicians) salaries in your industry.

It differs from the EP qualifying salary, which represents the minimum threshold candidates must meet to secure an Employment Pass (EP).

Even if candidates score points under the C1 salary benchmark, they will be ineligible for an EP if they do not meet the EP qualifying salary requirement. The EP qualifying salary serves as a prerequisite, regardless of the points earned in the C1 salary benchmark.

Points for the candidate’s fixed monthly salary in relation to sector-specific benchmarks are awarded as follows:

  • 90th percentile and above: 20 points
  • 65th to less than 90th percentile: 10 points
  • Below 65th percentile: 0 points

C2: Qualifications

This criterion allocates points based on the qualifications of the candidates.

Points can be earned as follows:

Top-tier institutions (20 points):
  • Top 100 universities according to the QS World University Rankings, along with other highly-regarded universities in Asia.
    Singapore’s Autonomous Universities.
  • Institutions highly recognized in a specific field, endorsed by a relevant agency.
Degree-equivalent qualifications (10 points):
  • Foreign qualifications are deemed comparable to a bachelor’s degree in the UK system, as determined by MOM with reference to international recognition bodies such as the UK National Information Centre for recognition and evaluation of international qualifications and skills (UK ENIC).
  • Professional qualifications are well-recognized by the industry and endorsed by a relevant sector agency.
No degree-equivalent qualifications (0 points):
  • Points will only be awarded if the candidate’s qualification is assessed to be comparable to a Bachelor’s degree in the UK system. Otherwise, no points will be granted, even if the institution is present in MOM’s drop-down list of accredited institutions.

Note: Candidates without degree-equivalent qualifications can still pass COMPASS by achieving a total score of at least 40 points from other criteria.

Verification proof requirements:

If points are required from this criterion, verification proof must be submitted along with the candidate’s qualifications in the EP application. Otherwise, there is no need to submit the candidate’s qualifications and verification proof.

C3: Diversity

This criterion assigns additional points to applications in which the candidate’s nationality constitutes a smaller proportion of the firm’s PMET employees. Fostering a diverse array of nationalities within a workforce brings forth fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and expanded networks, contributing to a more inclusive and resilient workplace.

Points can be earned as follows:

  • If your organization employs fewer than 25 PMETs, your application will automatically receive 10 points.
  • If your organization has at least 25 PMETs, the points awarded will be contingent on the share of your candidate’s nationality among your organization’s PMETs. You can use the Workforce Insights tool on the myMOM Portal to ascertain this information.
  • Share of candidate’s nationality among organization’s PMETs:
    • Less than 5%: 20 points
    • 5% to less than 25%: 10 points
    • 25% or more: 0 points

It’s important to note that the nationality of your organization’s employees, including Permanent Residents, is determined based on the nationality indicated on their passport in the Singapore Government’s records. This approach promotes diversity and contributes to the creation of a more vibrant and inclusive work environment.

C4: Support for Local

This criterion acknowledges organizations that actively foster opportunities for the local workforce and cultivate teams that encompass both local and foreign professionals.

Points can be earned as follows:

  • If your organization employs fewer than 25 PMETs, your application will automatically receive 10 points.
  • If your organization has at least 25 PMETs, the points awarded will be contingent on your organization’s local PMET share relative to its sector. This is assessed as follows:
  • Organization’s local PMET share relative to its sector:
    • 50th percentile and above: 20 points
    • 20th to less than 50th percentile: 10 points
    • Below 20th percentile: 0 points

If your organization’s local PMET share is at least 70%, your application will score at least 10 points. This threshold is pegged to the 20th percentile of organizations economy-wide. Importantly, this minimum score of 10 points is granted irrespective of your organization’s standing within its sector. This ensures fairness and avoids disadvantaging organizations in sectors with a relatively high share of local PMET employees.

C5: Skills Bonus (Shortage Occupation List)

This bonus acknowledges roles demanding highly specialized skills that are scarce within the local workforce. The Shortage Occupation List (SOL), determined through a rigorous evaluation process considering industry needs and local workforce development initiatives, identifies such critical skill gaps.

Points can be earned as follows:

  • Job on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and Share of candidate’s nationality among your organisation’s PMETs is less than 1/3: 20 points
  • Job on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and Share of candidate’s nationality among your organisation’s PMETs is 1/3 or more: 10 points

The Workforce Insights tool on the myMOM Portal can be utilized to assess the share of your candidate’s nationality among your organization’s PMETs.

To secure the C5 Skills bonus:

  • The candidate must perform the specific job duties outlined for the shortage occupation.
  • One of the eligible job titles from the SOL must be selected in the EP application.
  • The candidate must meet additional job requirements if falling into either of these categories:
    • They require SOL bonus points to pass COMPASS.
    • They are applying for a 5-year duration EP for a specific tech occupation on the SOL.

Refer to the SOL guide for understanding the additional requirements for EP candidates needing SOL bonus points to pass COMPASS.

Verification involves assessing the candidate’s job duties, past work experience, and qualifications or industry accreditation for the declared occupation.

For candidates requiring SOL bonus points to pass COMPASS or obtain a longer duration EP, redeployment is limited to the specific shortage occupation. Notification to MOM is mandatory for a reassessment of the candidate’s EP eligibility if redeployment to a different role is necessary.

C6: Strategic Economics Priorities Bonus

This bonus acknowledges organizations that are either:

  • Engaged in ambitious investment, innovation, and internationalization initiatives in collaboration with economic agencies.
    OR
  • Endorsed by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) as strong partners in company and workforce transformation activities.

Singapore aims to nurture and expand firms capable of enhancing our economy’s innovative capacity, strengthening global linkages, and boosting economic competitiveness. These firms should also possess the scale or potential to offer quality employment opportunities for local talent.

Points can be earned as follows:

  • Strategic Economic Priorities (SEP) Bonus:
    • Participate in or meet the criteria for at least one of the eligible programs: 10 points.

The award of the SEP bonus is discretionary and will be determined by the supporting agencies overseeing the relevant program. MOM will inform your organization if it has been granted the SEP bonus, and the points will be reflected in the Self-Assessment Tool (SAT). Any queries can be directed to the relevant supporting agency.

Validity of SEP Bonus Points:

The bonus points remain applicable for up to 3 years or for the duration of your organization’s participation in an eligible program, whichever is shorter.

Renewal Eligibility for SEP Bonus Points:

At the end of the validity period, your supporting agency will reassess whether to continue supporting your organization for the SEP bonus for an additional duration. Renewal is contingent upon your organization’s continued participation in an eligible program and meeting the following criteria for each of the three months before renewal:

  • Earn at least 10 points for C3. Diversity.
  • Earn at least 10 points for C4. Support for local employment.

These criteria ensure that organizations eligible for SEP bonus points actively contribute to diversifying and enhancing their workforce profile.

Exceptions to COMPASS

Employment Pass (EP) applicants may be exempted from undergoing the COMPASS assessment if they meet specific criteria:

High Fixed Salary Exemption:

EP applicants earning a fixed salary of at least $22,500 per month are exempt from COMPASS evaluation.

Intra-Corporate Transferee Exemption:

Individuals applying as overseas intra-corporate transferees under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or a relevant Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are also exempt from COMPASS scrutiny.

Short-Term Basis Exemption:

EP applicants filling a role on a short-term basis, specifically for one month or less, are exempt from COMPASS assessment.

It’s important to note that while these exemptions exist, applicants falling under any of these categories must still meet the minimum qualifying salary requirement for their EP application. These exemptions provide a streamlined process for individuals meeting specific salary criteria or those falling under certain international trade agreements or short-term employment scenarios.

Tips for a Scoring Triumph

Negotiate Like a Pro for C1: Know Your Worth

  • Research salary benchmarks: Familiarize yourself with the average salary for your position and experience level in the Singapore market using MOM’s salary tool and industry reports.
  • Consider total compensation: Look beyond base salary and factor in bonuses, allowances, and stock options. Aim for a comprehensive package that aligns with C1 expectations, highlighting your value to the company.
  • Confidently communicate your worth: Approach salary negotiations armed with data and evidence supporting your request. Emphasise your unique skills and experience, articulating how they contribute to the company’s success.

Let Your Degrees Shine for C2: Academic Accolades

  • Focus on relevance: Spotlight degrees and certifications directly tied to your desired position, quantifying academic achievements such as GPA, awards, and publications where applicable.
  • Prioritize professional development: Showcase relevant training programs, workshops, and continuing education courses to underscore your commitment to ongoing learning.
  • Tailor your portfolio: Customize your CV and cover letter to emphasize qualifications sought by the employer, incorporating keywords from the job description and COMPASS criteria.

Embrace Inclusion for C3: Champion Diversity

  • Highlight diversity policies: Showcase initiatives promoting equal opportunities for all genders, ethnicities, and nationalities, emphasizing a commitment to fair recruitment and talent management practices.
  • Share impactful examples: Illustrate successful cases of diverse talent within the company, quantifying the benefits of a diverse workforce.
  • Partner with local communities: Engage in local initiatives or mentorship programs supporting underrepresented groups to demonstrate the company’s dedication to building a diverse and inclusive Singapore.

Nurture and Develop for C4: Invest in Local Talent

  • Showcase training programs: Highlight employee training and development initiatives, particularly those aimed at upskilling local talent, showcasing the company’s investment in building local expertise.
  • Partnerships for learning: Collaborate with local universities or training institutions to provide internships, scholarships, or skills development programs, showcasing a commitment to fostering local talent pipelines.
  • Track and quantify success: Demonstrate the positive impact of your training programs on local employees’ career progression and skill development, showcasing measurable results and long-term commitment.

The C5 Bonus Shortcut: Target In-Demand Roles

  • Research the Shortage Occupation List: Identify positions listed by MOM facing critical talent shortages, automatically earning you C5 bonus points.
  • Align your skills: Ensure your qualifications closely match the requirements of the in-demand role, illustrating how you can fill the talent gap and contribute immediately.
  • Stay ahead of the curve: Stay informed about emerging trends and future skills needs in Singapore, proactively aligning your skillset with evolving industry demands.

Unearth C6 Hidden Gems: Go the Extra Mile

  • Research awards and recognition: Highlight industry awards, professional certifications, or personal achievements relevant to your field, showcasing your leadership potential and expertise.
  • Unique contributions shine: Showcase any specialized skills, languages, or cultural knowledge you possess, as these unique assets can attract C6 bonus points and set you apart.
  • Quantify your impact: Move beyond listing achievements, quantifying the positive impact your contributions have had on previous projects, companies, or communities. Highlight your potential to replicate this success in Singapore.

Conclusion

In navigating the intricate landscape of COMPASS, it’s crucial to recognize that this assessment is not a hindrance but rather an opportunity to spotlight your worth and your company’s dedication to Singapore’s dynamic workforce. By gaining a profound understanding of the scoring system and strategically manoeuvring through its criteria, you can confidently secure your Employment Pass and set the stage for an exhilarating Singaporean career.

In this endeavour, seeking the assistance of a reputable corporate service provider can be a valuable asset. They are well-versed in the nuances of COMPASS and the broader immigration landscape and can provide expert guidance tailored to your specific circumstances. From ensuring accurate documentation to offering insights into negotiation strategies, these agencies streamline the application process, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.

As you embark on this journey, remember that COMPASS is not an isolated challenge but rather a stepping stone toward your professional aspirations in Singapore. Embrace the support available, seize the opportunities presented, and let the expertise of a corporate service provider serve as your compass, guiding you towards a smooth and successful Employment Pass application. Your Singaporean adventure awaits – make the most of it.

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