Coronavirus pandemic

MAS urges financial institutions to grow Singaporean talent pool

Identify S'poreans with leadership potential while complementing workforce with global talent, it says

The financial sector created 22,000 jobs from 2015 to the end of last year, with three in four jobs going to locals. The median monthly income of locals in the sector last year was $7,600, well above the national median of $4,600. Employment in the s
The financial sector created 22,000 jobs from 2015 to the end of last year, with three in four jobs going to locals. The median monthly income of locals in the sector last year was $7,600, well above the national median of $4,600. Employment in the sector is also estimated to have risen by about 1,500 in the first half of this year. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

Financial institutions should continue to identify Singaporeans with high potential for leadership roles and expand the supply of talented locals, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday.

The call comes a week after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said 47 employers were placed on a watch list for possible discriminatory hiring practices. Most were from the financial and professional services sectors.

MAS deputy managing director Jacqueline Loh told the SGUnited Financial Sector Jobs and Skills Fair: "We have to remain open and will continue to welcome global talent that complement our workforce. Employers must, however, hire in a responsible manner and commit to growing the local talent pool."

The financial sector created 22,000 jobs from 2015 to the end of last year, with three in four jobs going to locals. The median monthly income of locals in the sector last year was $7,600, well above the national median of $4,600.

Employment in the sector is also estimated to have increased by about 1,500 in the first half of this year, with locals continuing to account for about 75 per cent.

Ms Loh noted that attracting firms to set up their regional or global headquarters here means they will bring a diversity of talent from their global workforce, which may affect the proportion of Singaporeans on the staff.

"However, anchoring more global and regional functions here also brings along more growth, good jobs and opportunities for Singaporeans," she added.

"Further, it opens up possibilities for Singaporeans to tap the international footprint of these global financial institutions to gain overseas exposure, with some taking leadership positions overseas."

She added that most employers hire responsibly, ensuring that they build up the number of talented locals, even as foreigners are brought in to plug gaps.

"Building a strong pipeline of local talent is key to supporting and sustaining a financial institution's long-term build-out in Singapore," Ms Loh said. "It... facilitates their deeper appreciation of Singapore and the region's dynamics to facilitate better business outcomes as well."

MAS introduced an International Postings scheme in 2013 to place promising Singaporeans in overseas positions.

 
 
 

The scheme was enhanced this year to provide 90 per cent co-funding of qualifying costs for postings to South-east Asia and 70 per cent co-funding to other Asian locations.

MAS urged companies to ensure their hiring practices comply with MOM's Fair Consideration Framework.

It also called on companies to support their workers amid the pandemic and take a longer-term view in investing in their capabilities, such as reskilling them for new roles.

Around 25 local and foreign financial institutions have committed to support close to 5,000 employees in reskilling and redeployment, of whom 3,000 have taken the first steps in this process. Of these, 900 have already completed their training and are in new roles.

"These efforts have helped to avoid retrenchment of staff who might otherwise be displaced, and contributed to the steady decline in retrenchments in the financial sector," Ms Loh said. "However, given the accelerated pace of digitalisation, we need to do more, and at scale."

This includes experimenting with an artificial intelligence platform with 13 financial institutions to automate the process of identifying jobs and skills so workers can reskill and move into suitable roles.

About 60 financial institutions have offered about 1,300 SGUnited Traineeship positions to fresh and recent graduates. And around 50 firms have committed to hiring 900 Singaporeans over the next three years to be groomed for future leadership and specialist roles under structured talent development programmes supported by MAS.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2020, with the headline 'MAS urges financial institutions to grow S'porean talent pool'. Subscribe