High-powered help for SMEs facing 'talent war'

As the Asean Economic Community moves closer to becoming a reality, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing a "talent war" for skilled labour that will only intensify, observers say.

However, these firms also stand to gain hugely from the opportunities provided by the integrating market of the 10-nation grouping.

To help them reap these rewards, Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, announced the launch of the SME business and financial management programme (SME BFM) yesterday at the annual CFO Connect Symposium.

Under the programme, SMEs will be mentored by experienced chief financial officers (CFOs) and will receive classroom-based training at the Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF). This will help them to develop their businesses sustainably and to go regional.

The programme was jointly developed by the SBF, Singapore CFO Institute and SMU.

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It is heartening that the partners have dedicated their expertise and pooled their resources to develop this flagship programme, specifically tailored to benefit and grow our local SMEs.

MR TEO SER LUCK, Minister of State for Trade and Industry

The first session is scheduled to begin early next year and each programme will last five months, benefiting over 20 SMEs per run.

Mr Teo said: "It is heartening that the partners have dedicated their expertise and pooled their resources to develop this flagship programme... tailored to benefit and grow our local SMEs. "

He noted that this complements the SkillsFuture initiative which will aid both SME employers and employees.

These efforts are expected to be of interest to the symposium's participants. Other themes covered throughout the day included the changes that SMEs would face by disruptive technologies, as well as the "Internet of Things".

Mr Lawrence Poh, chief finance officer of Fong's Engineering and Manufacturing, welcomed the opportunity for firms to improve their financial management.

He said this should see SMEs approaching business challenges with stronger business and financial management capabilities, and to excel.

The CFO Connect Symposium is jointly organised by The National CFO Institute and CPA Australia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2015, with the headline 'High-powered help for SMEs facing 'talent war''. Print Edition | Subscribe