Send public officers on secondment to SMEs

It is not easy to search for fresh ideas to address many of the social and economic issues we face in our country.

We are constantly hearing cliches and motherhood statements being made.

In business, for example, when it comes to internationalisation, we have been talking about "hunting in a pack" for decades (Fight unfair work practices, help firms 'hunt in packs' abroad; May 15).

We always want to "do more to help companies with effective networking to venture abroad" and "go further in supporting SMEs to manage the rising costs of doing business".

Instead of inventing new things and coming up with something ground-breaking, what is, perhaps, more practical would be to improve experiences.

Exchange programmes allow our students to get to know overseas counterparts with whom they may work in the near future.

The same arrangement can be found when government employees are seconded to other organisations to understand how they operate.

Why not take this further by having our public officers seconded to the small and medium-size enterprise (SME) sector?

This would allow them to experience the daily challenges SMEs face.

By spending a reasonable amount of time working in the performance-driven SME context, these public officers would be able to more accurately relate to the industry and might craft better-targeted policies and programmes when they complete their tour of duty.

Tan Kar Quan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2018, with the headline 'Send public officers on secondment to SMEs'. Print Edition | Subscribe