A blueprint that maps out how bosses can work closely with human resource (HR) professionals, to transform their businesses in these lean manpower days, was launched yesterday.
Broadly, this HR industry manpower plan sets out the desired goals and the help available for two main groups: HR professionals, and employers and businesses.
For the 43,000 HR professionals in Singapore, there are training, internship and certification opportunities to boost their capabilities.
Businesses and employers can turn to mentorship programmes and free advice from volunteer HR directors. An online resource portal will be up towards the year end.
HR service providers can offer ways for small and medium-sized enterprises to outsource some HR operations and use more technology.
With a workforce of about 3.4 million, Singapore has around one HR professional for every 80 workers.
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.
SECOND MINISTER FOR MANPOWER JOSEPHINE TEO, on HR being the key that can unlock the potential of Singapore's people and businesses to adapt and transform.
With progressive workplace practices, workers can be more engaged, better motivated and even more productive.
LABOUR MP PATRICK TAY, on how workers can benefit from the new plan.
But tiny firms often do not have anyone doing just HR work, while some bigger companies require their HR teams to do just routine administration, said Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo yesterday at the launch of the plan.
She believes HR can be the key to unlock the potential of Singapore's people and businesses to adapt and transform.
"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.
As Singapore shifts to a manpower-lean economy, businesses 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.
HR staff must be able to help employees understand what lies ahead and equip them with skills to take on new roles or help the business operate in a different way, she told reporters later.
The new plan was announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say two years ago, and supports the 23 industry transformation maps for Singapore's key industries.
It was developed by the HR Sectoral Tripartite Committee, which includes representatives from the Government, unions, employers, HR bodies and associations, as well as academia.
New body to draw the young into HR
To draw young blood into the human resource (HR) profession, a newly formed institute will show students at institutes of higher learning the potential of such a career.
The Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) is still working out the nuts and bolts of the programme, said its board chairman Goh Swee Chen.
Students will be attached to the IHRP as "associates".
"We want to generate interest at the level where people are making choices about careers," said Ms Goh, chairman of Shell companies in Singapore and vice-president of the Singapore National Employers Federation, yesterday.
Developing HR is invaluable in driving businesses forward, she said. "Our definition of success would be that, in strengthening the HR professional, we strengthen the human capital value and, in turn, see more successful businesses."
IHRP is accepting applications for the basic and senior levels of its national certification scheme, which is part of the HR manpower plan launched yesterday.
The highest certification level is master professional, for which chief HR officers in organisations can be nominated by tripartite leaders and industry peers.
The aim is to certify 5,000 HR professionals in the next five years, said Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo.
So far, 91 have been certified.
Ms Goh said it is vital for HR leaders to understand business trends and issues. "(They) must be able to get the organisation ready for changes. HR must play a role at the board table."
Workers also stand to benefit from the new plan, said labour MP Patrick Tay."With progressive workplace practices, workers can be more engaged, better motivated and even more productive."
For instance, at home-grown salad store chain SaladStop!, with about 180 workers here, an HR consultant mentored five managers on how to train and appraise staff in a more structured way.
Ms Kris Loy, director of consultancy Ark Solutions, did it once a week from September last year to June this year.
She streamlined the training material from 12 modules to four, and broke it down into daily bite-sized chunks for the outlet managers to train new staff during their three-month probation period.
The scheme is funded by Spring Singapore and is one of the initiatives under the HR manpower plan.
District manager Daniel Arumugam, who oversees eight outlets, said the new training structure has boosted employee confidence and retention, as "we have better skills to coach our staff".
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.