Companies, government should develop Singaporean talent in global firms

SINGAPORE – Companies in Singapore should have clear road maps for developing local talent with international expertise, especially if they have received related government support, said an industry-led group in a report on Friday.

The government should also incentivise companies to track, manage and increase the representation of Singaporeans in senior roles.

These were among the recommendations in a report by the Alliance for Action on Business Leadership Development (AfA-BLD), led by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). AfAs work with the government to prototype business ideas and solutions. The report was launched on Friday at an event attended by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

Although Asia is the fastest-growing region, Asians remain under-represented in leadership roles in global firms, said the report. As firms look to Asia for growth, there is “a clear business case to develop Asian leaders”, and thus an opportunity for Singapore to position local talents for such roles.

While Albert Tsui, SBF advocacy and policy division executive director, noted that a number of Singaporeans have been appointed to senior regional and country head roles in recent years, he said that there is potential for this number to be further improved.

Singapore's “robust foreign direct investment pipeline should mean opportunities for even more Singaporeans to take on leadership roles”, he added.

The report out six recommendations for individuals, companies and the government.

One recommendation for companies is to have “an intentional road map for attracting, retaining, and enabling local talent with international experience”.

For instance, multinational corporations here can develop Singaporeans for senior roles through bilateral exchanges across regional offices. These could range from remote overseas internships to longer-term overseas postings.

Singapore-based enterprises can cultivate global networks through participation in overseas business missions, trade shows and conferences.

They should also enable Singaporeans to take international postings by “supporting their familial needs”, such as facilitating overseas postings or remote work for accompanying spouses.

Disruption to the lives of spouses or children was one of three anecdotal reasons that Singaporeans are reluctant to work abroad, according to the report. The other two are the standard of living, as well as salary and compensation.

In particular, Singaporeans are concerned that their children will it hard to integrate back into the education system when they return, said Mr Tsui. The report thus recommends that the government provide more support in reintegrating families when overseas-based Singaporeans return.

For instance, government incentives could encourage companies to provide employment support for ' spouses, as part of the overseas relocation package. Children could be allowed to attend classes at a Singapore school during overseas term breaks, “to experience school life in Singapore”.

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