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Tackling Labour Shortage: A Singapore Case Study

Tackling Labour Shortage: A Singapore Case Study

What progressive HR practices Singapore companies do to innovate in fulfilling their manpower needs?

Foo Chek Wee
Foo Chek Wee

There’s not many chances one gets to stand in front of an over 300-strength audience to facilitate a panel discussion with respectable professionals across various industries. Last month, I was given that very opportunity when I hosted a conference at the HR Summit 2014; Asia's largest HR event in Singapore.

The panel discussion was entitled "Tackling Labour Shortage in Singapore". Contextually, due to the high proportion of the Singapore workforce made up of foreign nationality, the Singapore government implemented measures towards a healthier mix of locals and foreigners. Such measures include the tightening of foreign worker quota, increase of foreign worker levies, and the revision of the employment pass tiered system. These measures were effective and companies across various industries had to innovate their HR practice to fulfill their manpower needs. The following are examples of what I learned while facilitating the panel discussion.

Part-time, Mature, Back-to-Work Women & PWDS

The Hospitality and Food and Beverage industries traditionally employ a large population of foreign workers. Christina Kong, Senior Director, HR & Corporate Affairs for JUMBO Group of Restaurant, highlighted how her company has taken full and successful advantage of the part-time talent pool. This part-time talent pool even includes the hiring of high-school-goers of eligible age. In addition, her company has looked at innovative ways to attract and hire mature workers and back-to-work women. Within the hospitality industry, James Lee, HR Director for Holiday Inn Hotel Singapore Orchard City Centre, targeted another segment of the talent pool: Persons with Disabilities (PWDS). Not only does this talent pool enable his company to fulfill its manpower needs, but this engagement sends a strong signal, both internally and externally, out on the company’s belief in enabling employees to discover their potential and perform at their best both in life and at work.

Employer Branding

The security industry is another sector that employs foreigners from Malaysia only. In fact, for Certis CISCO Security, the hiring rate may exceed 300 in any single month for locals and Malaysians. Richard Lau, Vice President for Group Marketing & Communications and Recruitment, Certis CISCO Security, attends to the tightened foreign worker pool situation differently. Being in a unique position of working within the marketing and communications department of the company, and also overseeing recruitment within the Certis Group, Richard convinced senior management to increase the company’s Employer Branding in order to attract talents. One example would be the creation of a music video that features Certis CISCO Security employees taking time off to enjoy work-life balance. Another example is the management performing for their staff at their “Battle of the Bands” event.