New programme offers perks to firms with progressive employment practices

November 18, 20162:17 pm307 views

Implement employment practices over and above what is fair and legal, and get rewarded with perks such as quicker response in dealings with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and faster approvals of work passes.

A new programme called Human Capital Partnership (HCP) will be rolled out early next year to spread the culture of progressive employment practices. The outcomes of such practices should be: A stronger Singaporean core that includes employees of diverse backgrounds and ages; local and foreign manpower complementing each other; and the proactive transfer of knowhow from foreign professionals to locals that upgrades local capabilities.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say announced the HCP on Wednesday (Nov 16) at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP). The programme aims to get 100 companies of various sizes and from various sectors on board in its first six months, he said. It will be facilitated by TAFEP and supported by various government agencies, the Singapore National Employers Federation and the National Trades Union Congress.

Highlighting the need to invest in workers, Mr Lim said Singapore’s workforce will no longer grow at the rate of 4 per cent a year in the past decade. Instead, the workforce will grow at about 1 per cent a year in the next 10 years. “If we continue business as usual, manpower could become the bottleneck of growth, and low economic growth of 1 to 2 per cent could become the new norm in future. We cannot allow this to happen,” he said. “Unfair employment practices are bad. Fair is good, but progressive is better.”

Mr Lim also commended companies with good employment practices in his speech. The Ascott Limited, which operates serviced residences, provides new hires with opportunities, such as overseas postings, to grow. DBS bank grooms promising employees for key leadership positions and sends them for regional assignments. Wall-covering and flooring enterprise Goodrich Global pairs new and younger employees with experienced ones, and its staff retention strategies have led to low turnover rates.

Under the HCP, companies will be able to share best practices at networking sessions and be recognised as employers of choice. TAFEP will provide them a one-stop advisory service for better access to government resources such as the Lean Enterprise Development scheme. Mr Lim said approvals of work passes and access to relevant schemes will be “a lot faster”, with participating companies put in the “green lane”.

The HCP is aiming for 100 “pioneer” firms to come on board in its first six months. By 2018 and beyond, it could reach out to the “majority” of companies in the “standard lane”, that have fair practices.

“Quality is more important than quantity in the early stage of the programme,” said Mr Lim to reporters. “If we do not get the right type of employers with the right mindset, it can derail HCP objectives.”

Getting quicker access to foreign manpower will help Goodrich Global to seize business opportunities, said its regional head of marketing and branding Jean Leong. Recognition as a progressive employer under the HCP will help in drawing younger talent to the homegrown enterprise, and Ms Leong also welcomed programmes to support mid-career workers. The company has 500 staff, about 100 of whom are stationed in Singapore. It has a presence in seven other countries and almost all its country offices are led by Singaporeans, she added.


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