SOME 85 per cent of Singaporeans believe that the workforce here has become too reliant on foreigners, a survey of 1,500 people by online jobs portal STJobs has found.

However, it also came through that those who were polled recognised that Singapore needed foreign labourers to fill lower-skilled jobs in certain sectors that Singaporeans are unwilling to take on in the first place, and that foreign talents were still essential to fill the jobs that required the expertise lacking here.

Of the 1,500 individuals surveyed through a multiple-choice questionnaire, roughly a third came from each of the age groups 26 to 35, 36 to 45 and above 45 years old. Respondents aged 16 to 25 accounted for the remaining 10 per cent.

Of the sample, 84 per cent were citizens, 8 per cent were permanent residents and the remaining 8 per cent foreigners.

The survey also sought to find out why Singaporeans were shunning blue-collar jobs.

The local respondents polled said the main reason was that blue-collar jobs did not pay well enough to maintain a certain lifestyle, amid the high cost of living here. Another reason cited was that the physically demanding nature and long working hours of blue-collar jobs were also push factors for Singaporeans.

Singapore Human Resources Institute executive director David Ang said: "The challenge here is how far we can increase the pay while combining elements of the job."

He cited automation and training in new skills as other initiatives companies could take to entice locals into these jobs.

The respondents were also polled on how the government could encourage more Singaporeans who are not working to join the workforce. Close to half the local respondents thought the best way to do this was to support companies in drawing up part-time or flexi-work arrangements.

Local respondents also appeared to show strong support for the government lowering foreigner quotas further, and imposing on foreigners tougher criteria for citizenship or permanent residence here.

Keeping the macro picture in mind, Mr Ang said: "From the national perspective, we need to understand that it is not foreigner against local, but more the need to co-exist side by side with skills that can let the Singapore economy thrive and be productive."