SINGAPORE – Details of Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)

April 7, 2023

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has just released the following additional details on the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS). COMPASS enables employers to select high-quality foreign professionals, while improving workforce diversity and building a strong local core. It is a transparent system that gives businesses greater clarity and certainty for manpower planning. Specific criteria are listed below.

List of Top-Tier Institutions under Qualifications (Criterion 2)

EP candidates with qualifications from the top-tier institutions as listed in Annex A  will earn 20 points on COMPASS. Top-tier institutions include:

  • Top 100 universities based on QS World University Rankings, and other highly-reputed universities in Asia
  • Singapore’s Autonomous Universities
  • Institutions that are highly-recognized in a particular field

Degree-equivalent qualifications

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-recognised 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.


Bonus Criteria

Comprising of the Skills Bonus (Criterion 5) and the Strategic Economic Priorities 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 our local workforce.

  • Skills Bonus (Criterion 5)

As Singapore moves to capture new economic opportunities, firms will require access to skilled talent to fill these jobs. The Government works closely with education and training institutes as well as tripartite partners to create a local pipeline by training our local graduates and reskilling mid-career workers for these good jobs. However, given our 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 COMPASS1. This gives firms greater certainty when it comes to hiring.

The SOL is developed by MOM and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) 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 our 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. 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. 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.

Learn more about the current Shortage Occupation List here:


  • Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Criterion 6)

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

The Strategic Economic Priorities (SEP) Bonus thus 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 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[2] on the COMPASS firm-related criteria, Diversity (Criterion 3) and Support for Local Employment (Criterion 4).

Learn more about the Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus here:
  1. Bonus points are reduced to 10 points if the EP candidate’s nationality forms one-third or higher of a firm’s PMETs. This is to encourage resilience and diversity in firms in areas requiring these skills.
  2. This refers to scoring at least 10 points on C3 for all nationalities and at least 10 points on C4.

Immigration Insights

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Chase for any case- or company-specific assessments.