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Are You Working IN Singapore or WITH Singapore? - Building a Strong Local Core In Your Workforce Volume 3

Are You Working IN Singapore or WITH Singapore? - Building a Strong Local Core In Your Workforce Volume 3

I first wrote about Building a Strong Local Core In Your Workforce Volume 1 and Are You Triple Strong or Triple Weak - Building a Strong Local Core in Your Workforce Volume 2 when the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced the launch of the Fair Consideration Framework and announced measures to refine the Employment Pass (EP) application process, putting in place stricter measures and closer scrutiny on 'Triple Weak' companies. 

This article seeks to 1) Reinforce the importance of building a strong local core in your workforce and 2) Get MNCs to think from a Singapore's point of view as a nation. 

Now, some context first. 

Singapore’s total labour force total at 3.61 million in June 2015, (2.23 million residents+ 1.38 million non-residents). 

Total labour force growth reduced from 5.2% per annum in 2006 to 2010 to 2.9% per annum in 2010 to 2015. Non-residents labour force slowed from 11% p.a. to 4.8% p.a.

This is not surprising amid the tightening of the immigration framework and the slew of foreign manpower management measures introduced. 

Companies must have felt this - from employment pass not getting renewed for mid-level employees to increasing challenge to bring in *entry level talents on assignments into Singapore.

*Did you know - if you recruited a fresh graduate from Europe and wants to send him on an international assignment to Singapore after his first year stint in e.g. Spain, you've to post the vacancy on the National Jobs Bank to consider locals fairly first OR alternatively prove that he/she possesses skills & knowledge at an advanced level? He/she is just a graduate! 

You may argue that this could be in conflict with the design and mobility principles of your company's Graduate Development Program but clearly, the national agenda comes first before a commercial graduate program interests. 

Companies need a robust 'Locals First and Asean' talent agenda to stay relevant in Asia and be committed to grow IN and WITH Singapore. 

Singapore is a major hub and often the regional headquarters for multinational companies operating in Asia. 

Foreign business chambers have dialogued with the Ministry of Manpower expressing concerns for companies to meet local staffing needs. Despite these 'lobbying', MOM has remained pretty firm and clear - demonstrate what is the plan on transferring the know-how to local talents if you wish to continue to hire foreigners. 

This framework creates an opportunity for Singaporeans to get a fair chance of getting consider for taking on higher jobs that they aspire to - upskilling themselves by learning from skilled foreign talents.

Companies operating in Singapore should develop a systematic plan to transfer that know-how because when companies do so, they are realizing the purpose of closing the skill-gap for Singapore, contribute to the Human Capital Development for the nation and staying relevant to Singapore's economy.

Companies that remain resistant to building a strong local core will not be welcome to do business in Singapore overtime. This is not because Singapore is anti-foreigner, but because such behavior will add to the deepening of the 'local-foreign' divide in our Singapore workforce. 

If you are HR leader who works IN Singapore today, work WITH Singapore on this skill-gap and skill transfer agenda. Here, I quote from my earlier sayings in Volume 2, helping the nation in this agenda is a win-win situation for all. The stakes are high - Get it right, you'll have an ideal workforce with an optimal overhead costs. Get it wrong, you risk alienating either group (local or foreign talent group) and you risk weak cohesion and unity in your workforce

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