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Speech at 2012 National Human Resources Scholarship and Book Prize Award Ceremony

Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, Shangri-La Hotel, Casuarina Ballroom

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

  1. Good evening. A warm welcome to everyone. This evening, we are gathered to award and celebrate with the recipients of the National HR Scholarship and Book Prizes.
  2. Let’s take a look at the global environment we are in, and identify some of the issues that affect HR. The global economy has seen several starts and stops since 2008. Four years after the financial crisis, the global economy is still being held back by uncertainties. The weak global environment has impacted Asia, which is growing but at a slower pace.
  3. Strong human capital management is critical to help companies navigate these changes and transform them into opportunities. Singapore is largely dependent on our human capital capabilities. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, mentioned in his speech at the Singapore Human Capital Summit last week that we must ensure we have a strong Singapore core, for our companies to continue sustaining growth and for our economy to grow as a whole.
  4. We need to nurture and grow our pool of homegrown talent, provide opportunities for them to develop their potential and grow their careers.

  5. Strong HR Capabilities are key for our Organisations’ Sustainable Growth

  6. The pool of local talent includes a pipeline of HR professionals, as strong people practices will be the key competitive advantage for Singapore and our industries in this volatile global economy. As such, organisations need strong HR capabilities to develop their internal talent pipeline to influence the success and growth of their businesses.
  7. Last year, the Ministry of Manpower initiated the National HR Scholarship and Book Prizes in partnership with participating companies, to raise the profile of the HR profession among our undergraduates, and to build a pipeline of HR talent for the industry.
  8. The Scholarship provides the opportunity to experience the various functions of HR through internships with sponsoring organisations and sponsored overseas exchanges. Human Resource is no longer just about remuneration and benefits. Strategic HR is about human capital management or simply, people practices and also leadership development. These scholars will have the opportunity upon graduation to join their sponsor company’s HR team to be part of that key function of managing people and developing leaders. We hope, too, that the scholars will build an illustrous career in a HR-related field and be HR trailblazers. I had the chance to speak with the scholarship winners. I like their spirit and their enthusiasm. I hope that when they join their sponsoring organisations, they will continue to develop their capabilities even as they contribute to the organisations.
  9. To achieve this aim, the Ministry needs industry’s partnership. This year, we are delighted to have the support of eight participating organisations, namely
    1. Aon Hewitt;
    2. Atlas Sound & Vision;
    3. CapitaLand Limited;
    4. Keppel Corporation Limited;
    5. RE&S Enterprises Pte Ltd;
    6. Sakae Holdings Limited;
    7. Select Group; and
    8. Singapore Telecommunications Limited
  10. These organisations, comprising Multi-National Corporations and Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), have strong leadership commitment to investing in the development of its people.
  11. I would also like to thank our Universities – the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University – for their support in promoting the scholarship to the undergraduates, in delivering top-notch programmes specialising in HR and in emphasizing the value of a career in HR.

  12. 2012 Scholars & Book Prizes Winners

  13. The National HR Scholarship continues to garner much interest. This year, we received close to 90 applications. After many rounds of interviews and selection tests by industry partners and the Ministry, six outstanding scholars were selected. Our Universities have also each selected two book prize winners.
  14. Our selected scholars are well-rounded individuals. Besides performing well in their studies, they hold leadership appointments in their business schools’ student committees and have dedicated time to organize large-scale events. These have helped hone their leadership qualities and people management skills.
  15. Also common across the scholars were their strong belief in building people capabilities and that people are critical for an organisation’s success. Their passion in HR has influenced their internship choices, as all have pursued HR-related internships. Through these internships, they have gained invaluable practical experiences and displayed their potential as HR professionals. Let me share with you two examples:
    1. During her 10-week internship with SPRING Singapore, Ms Jazmine Oh spearheaded a project that involved revamping the organisation’s induction programme to aid new employees in getting up to speed with their work responsibilities. She had to work with various stakeholders such as new and experienced employees, and the senior management team, to understand their expectations. Jazmine also had to work closely with external vendors to put together an interactive e-module for the programme. The end product received good buy-in and feedback.
    2. Good HR policies can only be derived through a strong understanding of the ground issues. This is also what Ms Ruth Chee, believes in. Ruth did a three-month internship with Rolls Royce where she helped plan the training needs of employees. She worked closely with her mentor to engage the employees, to understand their required skill sets and existing gaps. Addressing employees’ concerns on development, Ruth helped execute an inaugural Learning and Development Roadshow where employees could gain a better understanding of their training opportunities and further their personal goals. And indeed, outside of work, we have our own goals for personal development and interest. Therefore, it would be in the interest of HR practitioners to understand the needs of employees outside of work. At the same time, it is necessary to also understand the future workforce. The baby boomers are different from those of Generation X and Generation Y. Companies that appreciate and address these differences will be employers of choice. So I hope our scholars and book prize winners will grow to understand these issues well and contribute to the growth of their companies.

    Inaugural Batch of National HR Scholars Continue to Shine

  16. It is also to my knowledge that our inaugural batch of scholars have progressed well over the past year. Three of them - Mr Jacob Tan, Ms Joyce Lim and Mr Sam Neo - graduated in the middle of this year and have started working with their sponsoring organisations. Another two, Ms Rachael Chiu and Ms Tan Sok Kai are in their final year of studies and have both completed internships with their sponsoring organisations.
  17. I am glad to know from our industry partners that our scholars have produced high quality work and possess positive work attitudes. For instance, Ms Joyce Lim’s engaging personality has allowed her to perform her job well as a Business HR Manager in Singapore Telecommunications Limited. She supports her business unit in a spectrum of HR issues and works closely with them to understand and resolve their manpower challenges.
  18. Only three months into his role, Mr Sam Neo has shown wit and enthusiasm in championing the Wellness portfolio at Keppel Corporation. He has introduced several new and useful ideas to Keppel’s Wellness Framework and launched several initiatives such as forming Keppel Group’s 1st Big Walk team for the recent “The New Paper Big Walk”.

  19. Conclusion

  20. These are just some examples of how our scholars have made a difference to their organisations. I believe they will continue to exhibit their potential going forward, helping our industry partners grow. They will also contribute as individuals to the vibrancy and quality of the HR profession. I also hope that organisations will continue to place emphasis on HR as a strategic function, placing people at the heart of their organisations.
  21. Today, I am delighted to present the awards to the second batch of deserving National HR Scholars and Book Prize winners. I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to the six national HR scholars and six book prize winners. Each of you play an instrumental role towards helping our businesses grow. I wish you success in your future endeavours as HR professionals and in pursuing rewarding careers upon graduation.
  22. I would also like to, once again, thank all industry partners for their support. I hope more organisations will partner us and leverage the scholarship to build stronger talent capabilities and leadership pipeline for the future.
  23. On this note, I wish all of you a pleasant evening. Thank you.