Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)


This article offers guidance for HR professionals in Singapore regarding the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) bonus criteria. It outlines the functionality of the Skills Bonus and Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus, as well as the requirements for eligibility in the Shortage Occupation List and Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus.


From September 1st, 2023, companies in Singapore that wish to hire foreigners on an Employment Pass (EP) will need to verify their educational qualifications using the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) to ensure their authenticity, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Employers will be required to submit third-party verification proof for applicants with diploma-level qualifications and above.

What is Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS)?

The Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) is a system used in Singapore to evaluate applications for an Employment Pass (EP).

It awards points based on four attributes and two bonus criteria, including educational qualifications, salary, nationality diversity of the firm, and the company’s support for local employment.

The system aims to ensure that EP applications meet certain criteria and are not fraudulent.

What does this mean for employers of foreign manpower in Singapore?

Employers will be required to submit third-party verification proof for applicants with diploma-level qualifications and above.

The Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) will enforce this requirement, awarding points to EP applications based on four attributes and two bonus criteria. Educational qualifications are one of the attributes, and a degree-equivalent qualification earns 10 points, while qualifications from a “top-tier institution” can earn 20 points.

If points are not needed under qualifications, employers do not need to submit verification. The verification requirement will take effect in September for new applications, while for EP renewal applications, it will take effect in September 2024.

Update from MOM

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has made public details regarding the criteria for the Complementarity Assessment Framework (COMPASS) bonus, which encompasses the Skills Bonus (Criterion 5) and the Strategic Economic Priorities Bonus (Criterion 6).

The additional criteria allow Employment Pass (EP) candidates with skills in high demand and companies that support Singapore’s key economic objectives to receive bonus points toward their overall COMPASS score.

Bonus points can assist companies in recruiting foreign workers to take advantage of short-term economic opportunities, given the limitations of the local workforce.

COMPASS is a recently launched system that employs a points-based approach to comprehensively assess an Employment Pass (EP) applicant’s fit with Singapore’s workforce, taking into account both individual and company-related factors. This system helps companies to plan their workforce effectively and rewards those who strive to cultivate a robust local talent pool whilst also nurturing a diverse foreign workforce. From 1 September 2023, COMPASS will be applicable to all new EP applications, and from 1 September 2024, it will apply to renewal EP applications.

The Skills Bonus (Criterion 5) offers a maximum of 20 extra points on the COMPASS system to EP applicants who hold a job on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). The SOL is created by the MOM and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) after thorough assessment and consultation with industry agencies and tripartite partners.

The jobs included in the SOL must hold a crucial role in Singapore’s economic agenda and face a considerable shortage of workers due to skills deficiencies. The first SOL can be found on the MOM website and will undergo evaluation every three years. MOM maintains the ability to include or exclude jobs on a yearly basis if market circumstances necessitate it.

EP candidates who need the SOL bonus points to pass COMPASS will undergo further verification checks by MOM. Furthermore, if these candidates are given the green light, their employment will be limited to the specific shortage occupation. In cases where the employer intends to assign the EP holder to a different job, the EP holder will be evaluated again to determine their eligibility for an EP.

The SEP Bonus (Criterion 6) acknowledges companies that take on challenging endeavours such as investment, innovation, internationalisation, or transforming their company or workforce. Companies that receive the SEP bonus will be granted 10 bonus points on COMPASS for each EP application they submit.

The MOM website regularly updates information about COMPASS. Businesses can use the Workforce Insights tool on the MyMOM Portal to evaluate their performance based on COMPASS criteria and compare themselves to others in their industry. It is advised that businesses make use of available resources to prepare for the transition to COMPASS, which will begin for new EP applications on 1 September 2023.

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