It pays for firms to develop human capital

Incentives in store for those with good record of nurturing, training local staff

Employers with a good track record in training and nurturing their Singapore workers as well as offering work practices like flexible hours will be given incentives from next year.

These include being put on the fast track when applying to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for foreign worker passes, grants and any relevant aid they may need, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday, when announcing the Human Capital Partnership Programme.

Under the new scheme, these companies will be able to use a dedicated hot line to reach the ministry instead of having to go through the general call centre.

They can also seek advice from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) on grants and schemes available for staff development, and brand themselves as "Human Capital Partners".

Mr Lim, who was speaking at Tafep's 10th anniversary celebration at Resorts World Sentosa, said employers need to focus on nurturing the talent they have because growth will have to be achieved with a leaner and older workforce from now on.

"Instead of looking at workers as 'human resources' which may be consumed and depreciate over time, we should treasure and keep investing in them as our precious 'human capital'," the minister said, addressing about 500 guests including employers, staff and Tafep's partners.

The new programme of incentives will be rolled out by early next year. He said the aim is to attract 100 companies in six months. About 40 have been identified by economic agencies as being progressive employers.

Companies that come on board need to commit to three priorities: build a stronger Singaporean core by investing in employees of all ages and at all levels; select foreigners that complement local workers and not substitute them; and proactively transfer expertise from foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians to locals. Only then will they get faster access to foreign employees, Mr Lim said, without specifying how much faster.

He also said MOM will run more pilot programmes if companies have ideas on how it can better support them in nurturing talent.

The new scheme is put together by Tafep, MOM, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation.

Ms Jean Leong, regional head for marketing and branding at Goodrich Global, said her interior furnishing firm plans to sign up.

The company was praised by Mr Lim for helping younger employees learn from senior staff.

"Sometimes we don't have enough workers, and having to wait for work passes doesn't allow us to be cost-competitive," Ms Leong said, noting that the scheme's recognition of good employers could help attract fresh talent as well.

  • Companies can find out about the Human Capital Partnership Programme by calling Tafep on 6302-2782 or e-mailing
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2016, with the headline 'It pays for firms to develop human capital'. Subscribe