SMEs want help to attract young people, expand overseas

Local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are finding it hard to attract fresh talent, whether they are graduates from universities, the Institute of Technical Education or polytechnics.

This was a common problem raised by SME bosses during a dialogue with Education Minister Heng Swee Keat at a human capital event on Wednesday night at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. They asked for help attracting young people, who prefer to work at bigger multinationals as they think the career prospects are better there.

Mr Heng also highlighted two main challenges local SMEs face in his keynote address: "Our labour market is small, so competition for labour and talent is severe... Our Singapore market is also small, so to expand we'll have to go out of Singapore."

A range of productivity solutions were tossed up at the event, including a taskforce to plan a programme to help SMEs become export-ready and build networks overseas. Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck is the honorary adviser for the Global Immersion Programme taskforce. Other members of the taskforce include Mr Zainul Abidin Rasheed, the Ambassador (Non-Resident) to Kuwait, Madam Ho Geok Choo, chief executive of Human Capital Singapore, and Mr Ron Sim, chief executive of OSIM International.