New strategy for Singapore's human resource industry launched

There is now about one HR professional for every 80 people in the workforce. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - To help strengthen the human resource (HR) profession and better support businesses to transform and grow, a new manpower plan for the HR industry was launched on Monday (July 10).

This sets out strategies in three areas: first, for HR professionals, there are training and internship programmes as well as a national certification from the Institute for HR Professionals (IHRP).

Second, for businesses and employers, the plan includes mentorship programmes, free advisory services and an online resource portal to be launched in the fourth quarter of this year.

Finally, for the HR industry, there is a scheme by Spring Singapore, where small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can outsource some HR operations and use more technology.

There is now about one HR professional for every 80 people in the workforce. But in very small companies, there is often no dedicated HR person, while in some bigger companies, HR teams are expected to do only routine administration, said Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo on Monday.

In fact, HR can be the key to unlock the potential of Singapore's people and businesses to adapt and transform, said Mrs Teo, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs.

As the country transits to a manpower-lean economy, businesses will need to work harder to find and keep talent. They will need more systematic HR management and better access to competent service providers, she said.

"Our plans to transform the economy are ambitious. We stand a much better chance of succeeding if we can effectively mobilise the HR industry in this effort," she told 400 industry representatives.

"Good HR helps keep people engaged and productive, businesses can keep growing and bosses are happy. Bad HR? It just keeps my brothers and sisters in the NTUC (National Trades Union Congress) busy for all the wrong reasons," she quipped.

The plan's creation was first announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say two years ago. It was developed by the HR Sectoral Tripartite Committee, which includes representatives from the Government, unions, employers, HR bodies and associations, and academia.

One of the new initiatives under the plan is a volunteer HR directors scheme, where SMEs can get free advice. About 20 SMEs have tried the scheme so far and Spring Singapore wants to expand the pool of volunteers.

As for the three-level IHRP certification, which was launched earlier this year, applications are now open at the basic and senior levels. Chief HR officers in organisations can also be nominated by tripartite leaders and their industry peers to be assessed as master professionals, which is the third and highest level.

The aim is to certify 5,000 HR professionals over the next five years. There were 88 people who were certified at the first two levels and three master professionals in the pilot run late last year.

Correction note: In an earlier version of the story, we said that Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo had spoken to 1,300 industry representatives. The Manpower Ministry has since clarified that there were close to 400 guests at the morning segment when Mrs Teo gave her speech. The total number of 1,300 includes guests who attended the public showcase in the afternoon.

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.