Boost training so S'poreans can compete for top jobs

WHILE banks could do more to encourage young people to take on more responsibilities, ultimately, it is talent, rather than nationality, that counts ("How to improve S'poreans' chances of taking top jobs" by Mr Liu Fook Thim; Wednesday).

This is all the more so because the new generation of workers wants to be treated differently, and their style of working has changed.

It has become an employees' market, and Singaporeans are impatient and eager to climb the corporate ladder, without giving much thought to a progressive rise through meritocracy.

South Korean and Japanese multinational companies used to reserve top posts for their citizens, but this is no longer the case.

Japanese companies such as Sony and Nissan are taking the first steps to hire foreigners for top management positions.

In 2011, the firm with the largest number of foreign professionals in South Korea was Samsung, with 16 foreign executives, followed by LG Electronics, with nine.

These expatriates were recruited for their experience and innovative thinking, to help the companies develop their international presence.

Running a business is about putting the best man in the job, not fulfilling nationality quotas.

The coming year will see a dramatic escalation in the war for talent. The search for talent will rise in the developing world as well as in the rich countries, including Singapore.

In Singapore, our ageing population means that baby boomers in top positions are going to retire, causing companies to lose lots of experienced talent.

Unless our universities have better training schemes, our locals will not be able to compare with expats. Companies will find it hard to get replacements locally, and will have to import foreign talent.

It is time to address the mismatch between what schools are producing and what companies need.

Competition for talent will force companies to cast their nets wider. We must come to terms with this reality as this is what globalisation is all about.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'Boost training so S'poreans can compete for top jobs'. Print Edition | Subscribe