Singapore's major investment in leadership opens doors for talent

Author: Susan Tam | Date: 15 Mar 2017

Recruiters also upbeat about growth in overseas PMET roles

Recruiters in Singapore have welcomed the government’s recent budget promise of S$100million for leadership programmes, but urge caution when selecting candidates.
Aon Hewitt's senior client partner Na Boon Chong said choosing the 800 candidates for the initiative, which will take place over three years, should happen using scientific methodologies.
“Research has consistently found certain personality attributes to be more effective in dealing with uncertainties,” he said.
In its budget announcement, the government said it would invest in training schemes and send promising individuals on specialised courses and overseas postings to create the leaders of the future.
Na believes the training programmes must focus on two skillsets: business and personal.
“The former speaks specifically to the industry insight and foresight the leader should have, and the latter on character or soft skills,” he said.
Training to develop soft skills may be generic in nature, but learning opportunities to hone strategic thinking must be highly contextualised.
“How we develop the latter faster than the traditional apprentice or career model is the code to crack in this initiative,” he added.
Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, managing director of Robert Half Singapore, views the investment as a positive indicator that the country is gearing up to further build on the growth of local businesses and represents a significant boost to talent development.
“The investment also symbolises commitment in providing the younger generation with opportunities overseas,” said Imbert-Bouchard.
“By opening the doors to a global scheme, talent will be developed with local and international skillsets.”
Joanne Chua, Robert Walters’ account director for Southeast Asia and Greater China, points out that city-state is going through a period of economic restructuring, with stiff competition from the region and the wider global market.
“For Singapore to compete successfully on the international front, learning new ways of working outside the country can only broaden the mindsets and experiences of Singaporean talent,” said Chua.
Recruiters’ views on 2017's economic outlook for local businesses was encouraging despite challenging economic conditions.
Imbert-Bouchard said the forecast for Singaporean organisations operating overseas is optimistic for 2017, as more venture abroad over the next 12 months.
“Given the size of the Singaporean consumer market, organisations that have a strong market share will inevitably venture overseas to continue their growth,” he added.
Chua agrees, with the growth of the middle class in Southeast Asia creating strong demand for goods and services.
“These organisations can leverage the services of professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), particularly those possessing relevant regional experience in multinationals, to help them grow their operations.
“For PMETs to succeed in helping these Singaporean organisations grow, I would encourage senior management to be open-minded and flexible, welcoming the opinions and ideas of these workers,” she said.
Na sees natural expansion happening in overseas markets, but expects localisation over time by organisations as they look to reduce costs and increase profitability.
“A more advanced stage of evolution would be that Singaporean employers start managing talent development and mobility in a cross-border manner, thereby accessing talent beyond Singapore,” he said.