Singapore offers organisations extra incentives to develop their staff

Author: PM editorial | Date: 23 Nov 2016

Priority processing for work pass applications among the benefits for employers who prepare for ‘manpower-lean’ economy

Employers in Singapore are being incentivised to develop their employees’ skills with the offer of faster processing for work pass applications and access to a dedicated Ministry of Manpower (MOM) hotline.
In a speech at the 10th anniversary of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), Minister for Manpower Mr Lim Swee Say explained that Singapore needed to make its population as productive as possible.
“We are shifting gear, from being a ‘manpower-led’ economy to a ‘manpower-lean’ economy, driven by innovation and productivity gains,” said Mr Lim. “To succeed, we have to change our mindset.
“With fast changing technology and ageing, instead of looking at workers as ‘human resources’ which may be consumed and depreciate over time, we should treasure and keep investing in them as our precious ‘human capital’. In this way, everyone, young or old, can remain relevant, employable and productive as we venture into the manpower-lean economy of the future.”
According to Mr Lim, the past 10 years has been a strong period of manpower growth for Singapore, with the number of working adults rising from 2.1 million in 2005 to 3.4 million in 2015. However, in the next 10 years this will slow down, he warned.
“Due to the ageing of our workforce and lower birth rates, local manpower growth has slowed significantly, heading for stagnation in the next decade,” said Mr Lim. “With the growth of foreign manpower continuing to be moderated, the Singapore workforce will no longer grow at more than four per cent a year as in the past 10 years, but towards one per cent a year in the next 10 years.”
As well as priority processing for work pass applications and the MOM hotline, employers who invest in their staff will have access to a one-stop advisory service to access various assistance grants, schemes and programmes, such as Adapt & Grow and SkillsFuture.
To qualify for the rewards, organisations must cover three main areas: building a strong core of local workers by investing in employees of all ages and skill levels; only bringing in foreign manpower to complement the local workforce, rather than displace them; and transferring skills and expertise from foreign professionals to local ones wherever possible.