SINGAPORE - Many companies still prefer hunting for the perfect candidate rather than developing the ones available to them, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday morning (April 26).
He said companies looking only to bring in fresh graduates to inject new skills or to poach employees with the skills they need will result in a zero-sum game that will not increase Singapore's overall talent pool.
Mr Chan, who was speaking at the launch of the first Workplace Learning Conference held at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar, said Singapore must rethink its approach to building its talent pool.
He said: "Too many companies only seek to hire individuals who already have the competencies to meet their needs.
"Too many companies are also still using the proxy of a degree or diploma in their search process, rather than specifying more specific skill sets in their searches."
He added that too few companies focus on training their existing pool of workers or hiring people who show potential.
Such a situation will only lead to wages spiralling upwards without new skills or capabilities being introduced into the workforce, said Mr Chan, adding: "We must all break free from such a mindset if we want to stay competitive as an economy, and as a society."
He added: "Our progressive companies have shown us that it is possible to do things differently, and quite a few of you are here today with us."
Addressing the audience, which included representatives from nine companies receiving awards under the National Workplace Learning Certification scheme, Mr Chan noted that some of them have shown the way forward by combining their human resources with learning and development functions.
The certification scheme, run by the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (Nace), recognises progressive organisations that have structures and processes in place for good training practices at the workplace.
Instead of looking for talent outside, these companies develop in-house training to build their own people to meet new business needs, Mr Chan said.
One of the companies receiving the certification was German sensor firm Sick.
Mr Jack Goh, managing director of Sick Product Centre Asia in Singapore and Malaysia, told The Straits Times that partnering with Nace has helped the company build career pathways for its employees and grow the business.
He said it has also helped Sick identify and address skills gaps, particularly in thinking out of the box and risk-taking, and that the company, which has about 150 employees in Singapore, has seen revenues grow by 58 per cent in 2020 and 45 per cent in 2021.