Singapore 18th March 2013
After an “enlightened” weekend the real world of lighting design and running a practice is a back in full force! One of the key drivers of any company is its staff. The sum of the individuals is what makes (breaks) the quality of a company. I am blessed with a great team, but at times we look out for reinforcement. I don’t think I have shared this experience with you before, but we recently advertised for someone to join our production team in Singapore. Generally this is not a big deal, you put out an advertisement, go through the submissions, interview as needed and make your decision…But it turned out to be not that simple! Governments across the world are tightening the employment laws in a drive to protect the local workforce. I don’t know so much about Europe or the America’s but in Asia and Australasia this is certainly the case. Getting foreign workers (certainly in the lower salary scales) is common practice in this part of the world because in countries like Singapore of Australia salary standards (but also costs of living!) are much higher than in many of the neighbouring countries, hence we always had a big influx of skilled “foreign” workers for functions like drafting, rendering etc.
But since many governments are looking at reducing local unemployment and “stimulating” local jobs, getting employment passes for foreign skilled staff is getting increasingly difficult. They also have raised minimum wages for approval of work permits. It appears that specifically in the retail, hospitality and the service industry this is strongly felt with current foreign staff not getting renewal permit regardless if they already worked there for years! Increasing salaries for them is for many businesses a too heavy burden. I know of several cases in and around our design industry.
With that in mind we listed in the ad for the job that the applicant should be Singaporean or a permanent resident. To our astonishment we received near 200 (!) applications, mostly from “foreign” workers already here in Singapore presumably on a current work pass. Out of all these applications less than 5 (!) where actual Singaporeans or permanent residents and to compound the misery none of them complied to our requirements!!! From the “foreign” applications for the position of draftsman we even received certified architects! This just illustrates the economic woes that this region currently goes through. Getting the proper manpower is becoming more and more difficult!
Light Watch 4-47: A powerful man known as being the architect of light is Louis Khan, famous for some of his quotes about lighting:
> “ The sun never knew how great it was until it hit the side of a building “
> “ I sense Light as the giver of all presences, and material as spent Light. What is made by Light casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.”
> “ All material in nature, the mountains and the streams and the air and we, are made of Light which has been spent, and this crumpled mass called material casts a shadow and the shadow belongs to Light’
> “Even a room which must be dark needs at least a crack of light to know how dark it is.”
A retrospective is currently being held: ‘Louis Kahn – the power of architecture‘ – runs from 23rd February to the 11th August, 2013 at the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein