People

Manpower issue not unique to S'pore

Mr Yvan Legris says that, in the long term, it is always more efficient if your best talents are also locals, but between the long term and the immediate need, the mix of local and foreign talents has to be the right dose for businesses - and the eco
Mr Yvan Legris says that, in the long term, it is always more efficient if your best talents are also locals, but between the long term and the immediate need, the mix of local and foreign talents has to be the right dose for businesses - and the economy - to perform.ST PHOTO: SHAWN TEO

The curbs on foreign manpower have created a talent shortage for some businesses but this challenge is not unique to Singapore, according to a human resource expert.

Mr Yvan Legris, Aon Hewitt's global chief executive for consulting, told The Straits Times: "Using the financial sector here as an example - there's an increased level of sophistication and specialisation driven by new market trends.

"Employers need to find talents that are at the same time agile, creative and able to not do things the risky way," he said, in a reference to tighter financial regulations.

"In this case, I do see a gap between what is necessary and what is available in the local talent market.

"Organisations are always going to want to find the best talent, and sometimes nationality is second to that. In the long term, it's always more efficient if your best talents are also locals.

"But between the long term and the immediate need, the mix of local and foreign talents has to be the right dose for businesses - and the economy - to perform."

Mr Legris made his comments during a recent visit here for client meetings. His observations reflect the Government's caution in managing the impact of foreign manpower inflow.

Aon Hewitt is a human resource and corporate consultancy unit of insurance giant Aon.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said during a public lecture organised by the Singapore Management University in June that "while we slow down, we have to do it in a measured and balanced way because you do not want to overdo the medicine. You do not want to cause our companies to shut down".

Singapore's restrictions are no more stringent than many other jurisdictions, Mr Legris said.

"What you're seeing here is no different from what's happening in Europe, for instance, where there's increased political will to ensure indigenous jobs for indigenous talents.

"In fact, regulations in Singapore are less than what I've seen in many countries where the workforce is predominantly local."

Meanwhile, to be more successful in talent recruitment and retention, employers need to understand the manpower issues and benchmarks more precisely, Mr Legris said.

"It's around trying to get as much empirical evidence on how people feel and where they are benchmarked on their pay and benefits. You can (then) go from having just a feeling that certain things may work, to having data on which you can base your decision," he added.

"Arm yourself with as much data as you can on what your people are feeling and why. When you understand more of that on an empirical basis, there's a good chance that you can navigate the landscape better."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2015, with the headline 'Manpower issue not unique to S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe