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Building a Strong Local (Singaporean) Core in Your Workforce?

Building a Strong Local (Singaporean) Core in Your Workforce?

Have you started your strategic workforce planning with a strong local core in mind?

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by Lim Zhi Rong

Fair Consideration Framework, SkillsFuture, Wage Credit Scheme... if you've been following the local news and movements by the Singapore government, you would have heard about the emphasis for companies to build a strong local core in their workforce in Singapore.

I wish to first qualify that I am a Singaporean. With that disclaimer out of the way, I shall continue to share my thoughts on this.

Many MNCs setup their Asia Pacific Regional Headquarters (HQ) in Singapore. It was an easy decision in the past. Singapore is wonderful hub and a talent magnet. Income tax rates are low (especially when you compare to Australia), crime rates are low and it's a location especially friendly to expats.

Is your Regional HQ a melting pot of diverse talents? I wouldn't be surprise if it is because:

  • The main purpose of most Regional HQ is to lead the Asia Pacific strategy and leadership
  • Regional HQ usually holds a strategic regional responsibility to develop talent across the region. By nature of it’s purpose, it has a diverse talent pool
  • Singapore is a great hub for sourcing high quality and diverse talents!
  • Regional HQ has become an important location for most companies where international internal talents are transferred to Singapore to provide the know-how and leadership experience (i.e. this is where we have senior expats)

It is critical that MNCs continue to have the flexibility to provide international stretched assignments for their colleagues. In this way, international MNC talents get Asia Pacific exposure.

It is also important for Singapore as the country continues to attract investments from MNCs to setup operations here.

However, I think the time has now come where companies have to realize they no longer can enjoy 'freedom like in the past' where they could 'fly in foreign talents' without worrying about the chances of employment pass getting scrutinized further. Companies need to have the capability and pro-activeness to engage local authorities such as the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and and the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to justify your need for foreign talents AND also to demonstrate your plans of building a strong local core.

Business & HR Leaders need to show EDB that your company is vested and keen to contribute to the future of Singapore's business and economy and have a plan on transferring the know-how to local talents.

Companies need to proactively work with MOM to ensure the company builds a strong local core and consider locals fairly right at the start during talent identification stage. It is more than just posting jobs on the National Jobs Bank.

It is a shift in mindset HR Leaders need to cultivate with their hiring managers and colleagues. Companies cannot operate in an environment where Singaporean is the minority when you're doing business in Singapore.

When was the last time you thought about this? Do you know who's your best point of contact from EDB's Human Capital Division? Have you started to dialogue with the appropriate Director of the Foreign Workforce Policy Department with MOM?

Questions that HR Leaders need to ask ourselves in order to partner the business effectively in this changing employment landscape in Singapore.

This article was first published in LinkedIn