5 April 2023

On 31 March 2023, the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) issued a press release providing details on the Complementarity Assessment Framework (“COMPASS”) bonus criteria, comprising the Skills Bonus (Criterion 5) and the Strategic Economic Priorities (“SEP”) Bonus (Criterion 6). These bonus criteria allow Employment Pass (“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 manpower necessary to seize economic opportunities in the immediate term, in recognition that there are limits to Singapore’s local workforce.


COMPASS is a new points-based framework that considers both individual and firm-related attributes to holistically evaluate an EP applicant’s complementarity to Singapore’s workforce. COMPASS provides firms with clarity and predictability for manpower planning, and recognises efforts to develop a strong local pipeline and a diverse foreign workforce.

COMPASS will apply to (1) new EP applications from 1 September 2023, and (2) renewal EP applications from 1 September 2024. An overview of COMPASS is set out in Annex A to the press release.

Skills Bonus (Criterion 5)

MOM has advised that, given Singapore’s limited local workforce and worldwide competition for talent, the demand for skilled roles will also need to be met by complementary foreign manpower.

This is why the Shortage Occupation List (“SOL”) recognises EP applicants in occupations that require highly specialised 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. Bonus points are reduced to 10 points if the EP candidate’s nationality forms one-third or higher of a firm’s professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs). This is to encourage resilience and diversity in firms in areas requiring these skills.

The SOL is developed by MOM and the Ministry of Trade and Industry through a robust evaluation process, in consultation with sector agencies and tripartite partners. SOL occupations must exhibit strategic importance to Singapore’s economic priorities plus a significant degree of labour shortage due to skills gaps.

In addition, one key consideration when placing an occupation on the SOL is a strong commitment by the sector agency to work with industry to develop the local pipeline to address these shortages over time. Such efforts include working with Institutes of Higher Learning to equip graduates with the necessary skills for the job, as well as instituting programmes to upskill and reskill locals who are already in the sector or in adjacent roles.

The inaugural SOL is listed in Annex B to the press release. 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. 

Verification checks and conditions for SOL candidates 

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

  • First, MOM will conduct additional checks on the applicants, such as checking on their past work experience and whether the applicant has the qualifications or industry accreditation that are relevant to the declared occupation.
  • Second, such applicants, if approved, will have their employment 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.

SEP Bonus (Criterion 6)

Singapore seeks to anchor and grow firms that can contribute to the innovative capacity of the economy, enhance its global linkages, and strengthen its economic competitiveness. This creates good jobs for locals.

The SEP Bonus therefore recognises firms undertaking ambitious investment, innovation, internationalisation, 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 programmes run by agencies listed in Annex C to the press release (e.g. Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Singapore Tourism Board and NTUC) and demonstrate commitment to developing the local workforce. Supported firms will be notified by MOM 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) (“C3”) and Support for Local Employment (Criterion 4) (“C4”), which refers to scoring at least 10 points on C3 for all nationalities and at least 10 points on C4.

COMPASS resources on MOM website

The MOM COMPASS webpage 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.

MOM encourages firms to make use of the published information and available resources to plan for the transition to COMPASS when it takes effect for new EP applications from 1 September 2023.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg:

Our earlier articles 

You may also refer to our earlier articles titled “MOM announces upcoming changes to Employment Pass eligibility” and “Singapore as global hub for talent: MOM announces new Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass, new benchmark for top 10% EP holders, shorter FCF job advertising duration, shorter EP applications processing time, five-year EP option”.