SINGAPORE - More support is now available for young people keen to work abroad, and for companies to train them to prepare for overseas expansion plans.
The Global Ready Talent (GRT) programme, which was announced in this year's Budget, was launched on Thursday (Oct 10) by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing.
A total of 60 local enterprises are offering 110 overseas internship positions and 86 overseas management associate positions under the programme. These companies are from industries like lifestyle and consumer, infocomm and media, as well as manufacturing and engineering.
The government aims to have 5,000 overseas placements under the programme over the next five years.
Mr Chan said at the launch event at the National Gallery that the most competitive economy in the future will be one which can master and organise its talent best.
“We keep urging (enterprises) to innovate their products and processes, and expand their markets. But in order for the enterprises to do that well, talent is a critical enabler,” he said.
Addressing about 100 students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics and local universities as well as about 130 company representatives, Mr Chan encouraged young people to build up their skills and international knowledge through gaining overseas exposure.
“Live there, understand the culture, understand the social system, understand the intricacies of how other societies work and how they are similar or different from us...Once you have done that, the benefits will last a lifetime,” he said.
He added that the aim of the GRT programme is for young people to gain greater awareness and exposure to markets and issues beyond Singapore, and bring back new ideas and help the Republic check its blind spots.
Going abroad will also broaden the networks Singaporeans have in the region and beyond, and give them a diversity of experience that can prepare them for leadership roles in multinationals, he said.
Mr Chan, who is also Minister-in-charge of the Public Service, challenged government officers, in particular, to understand the world beyond Singapore so that they can make better policies when they return.
Under the GRT programme, Singapore enterprises can tap funding support to offer local and overseas internship placements to students from the ITE, polytechnics and local universities.
It also supports Singapore enterprises who want to post fresh graduates or young employees with up to three years of work experience to regional markets such as South-east Asia, China and India, under the management associate track. The overseas posting must be for at least one year.
Companies can receive up to 70 per cent funding for the allowances or salaries of participants.
Enterprise Singapore, which is running the scheme, said it will partner trade associations and chambers and institutes of higher learning to facilitate internship placements and evaluate companies who want to join.
Companies must have clear job scopes, objectives and mentorship plans for internships, and structured training and development plans with significant overseas exposure for management associate programmes.
Enterprise Singapore chief executive Png Cheong Boon said that for companies to succeed in their ventures abroad, they must ensure that their staff can understand and navigate the markets.
"GRT connects exciting regional opportunities from local enterprises with a pipeline of young talent keen to gain in-market experience," he said.
One company on board the scheme is business platform ollohub, which is offering six management associate positions in a joint venture with a Lao company.
ollohub chief executive Damien Lam said he hopes the scheme will raise awareness among young Singaporeans about the need to look abroad. Also, by lowering the costs of employing Singaporeans in developing countries in the region – where local workers earn much less – it should help convince the local partners there to hire Singaporeans.
“This will allow us to attract talent and grow our business faster,” he said.
At the launch event, Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Victoria Tan, 21, spoke about her experience this year during an internship at fleet management start-up DRVR in Bangkok.
Ms Tan, a final year psychology student, said a few weeks into her job as a business development specialist, she was sent to meet a chief executive of another company.
But when the meeting began, the man spent some time looking at his phone and then requested to meet her chief executive instead.
Instead of being intimidated, Ms Tan - who had prepared for the internship by reading up on business development - chatted with him and then talked about technical details to show that she was competent. In the end, she managed to close some deals.
“Through my internship, I gained practical skillsets like being able to negotiate deals and get partnerships, as well as networks, cultural intelligence, adaptability, which are skills I think employers are looking for,” she said.
“I hope to work overseas again before going to university because I’ve seen the sheer amount of growth you get when overseas.”