More than three decades ago, local workers did not have the expertise and skills needed to manage manufacturing sites.
As a result, pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) hired foreigners for managerial jobs at its new factories in Singapore.
At the same time, it recruited and trained locals for the roles. Among them was Mr Lim Hock Heng, who joined GSK as a production engineer in 1992.
Today, the 55-year-old is the company's site director, a job he has been holding since 2011.
He recalled spending six months preparing for the handover by his British predecessor, who retired.
GRATEFUL FOR TRAINING
He helped me understand the key business strategies and build up my network.
MR LIM HOCK HENG, a site director at GlaxoSmithKline, on his former British boss, who helped him prepare for his managerial position.
"He helped me understand the key business strategies and build up my network," said Mr Lim, who oversees two main facilities and about 650 manufacturing staff.
The company's effort in enhancing its local staff's skills to take over jobs done by foreigners was lauded yesterday, when it was given the new Human Capital Partner (HCP) symbol.
It was among 74 companies that received the symbol, which can be used as a tagline to brand themselves as progressive employers who develop staff.
The scheme, announced last November, rewards these employers with benefits such as being fast-tracked when applying to the Ministry of Manpower for foreign worker passes and grants, and having a dedicated hotline to reach the ministry, instead of having to go through the general call centre.
To be on the scheme, companies need to commit to three priorities: build a stronger Singaporean core by investing in all employees; select foreigners who complement, not substitute local workers; and proactively transfer expertise from foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians to locals.
At GSK Singapore, around nine in 10, or 500, of its workers are now local. Also, its local scientists will help to transfer technology developed in pilot projects here to units in the United Kingdom.
The HCP programme is organised by the Manpower Ministry, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation.
Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, speaking to 160 company officials at the ceremony for the mark, said good human capital management is important because the future workforce must be more inclusive, even as growth in the future economy is driven by pervasive innovation.
Said Mr Lim: "On our journey towards the future economy, we will, of course, continue to act on unlawful and unfair practices.
"But more importantly, we want to do much more to speed up the adoption of not just fair, but progressive, practices across all sectors and all sizes of enterprise."