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Speech at Asian Human Capital & Leadership Symposium 2016

Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, Equarius Hotel, Resorts World Hotel

Distinguished guests                                 
Ladies and gentlemen
  1. I am happy to join you here at the Asian Human Capital and Leadership Symposium.
  2. Technology has globalised the markets. We now transact in a world of “O2O”, moving seamlessly from offline to online, from online to offline.  
  3. Even though much may have changed, we ain’t seen nothing yet.
  4. The world of technology is advancing at unlimited speed.
  5. Global market is likewise opening up in an unlimited way, turning into a world with no boundary.
  6. To unlock this “unlimited” potential in technology and global markets, we need to have the key – innovation:The ability to turn technology into useful products and services to reach the markets ahead of the competition.
  7. The holders of this key is not financial capital, but human capital.
  8. People who are not only talented, but also passionate, engaged and motivated.
  9. Indeed, the ability to nurture and develop people, is and will increasingly be the differentiating factor for success, for the individual companies, and for our economy.  
  10. Organisations that treat people simply as a “resource”, “human resource”, just another factor of production, will find it increasingly difficult to sustain their competitive advantage for growth in the new era of innovation driven economy.
  11. Conversely, organisations that treat people as “capital”, “human capital”, recognising the value of each and every employee.
  12. And regard any dollar and every minute spent on employees as an investment rather than an expense, will be the ones that will succeed, and keep succeeding.
  13. Between valuing our people as ”human resource” and “human capital”, the choice is obvious, for Singapore.
  14. For 51 years since our independence, we have always accorded highest priority to investing in education and skill upgrading.
  15. We have also competed aggressively for good investments and good jobs, to provide good careers for our people to grow.
  16. For us, this journey of developing and nurturing human capital is a matter of survival. And a journey with no end.
  17. With aging and lower birth rates, coupled with high labour force participation rate and low unemployment, our local labour force is growing slower towards negligible level beyond 2020.
  18. Every worker is valuable today, and will become even more valuable moving forward.
  19. Hence, no matter how well we have done, how far we have come, we have to keep finding ways to be even better, because competition out there will only get keener, and expectation in here will only get higher.
  20. The role of HR profession will only become more critical as we transit towards a manpower lean economy.
  21. We count on a competent and professional community of HR leaders and practitioners, to help nurture every worker into a better worker as we transform our industries to make every job a better job.
  22. Are we there yet?
  23. A recent study of HR Manpower revealed that HR leaders and business leaders believe that our HR professionals have yet acquired all the skillsets required to meet emerging demands.
  24. Many are pre-occupied with performing transactional tasks such as recruiting to fill vacant positions and ensuring payroll is paid on time.
  25. These are necessary, but not enough priority is placed on becoming better strategic business partners, providing solutions to strengthen human capital, ensuring succession planning is in place for key positions, and managing employee relations and engagement.
  26. Another recent study (by Aon Hewitt) found that Singaporean employees are among the least engaged in Asia Pacific. 
  27. The Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report sums up the challenge for the HR profession well, not just here, but globally.
  28. “The skills and knowledge that got HR to where it is today probably won’t be relevant in the future.” 
  29. There is much scope for us to help and support our HR community to build up core competencies in the development of Human Capital.
  30. I am therefore most encouraged that in the past twelve months, an industry taskforce has conducted an extensive review of the HR profession here.
  31. They consulted over 500 HR and business leaders across all major economic sectors to define a framework of competencies that HR professionals need to be more ready to meet future challenges.
  32. They formulated a framework, known as the National HR Professional Certification Framework, to set out comprehensively how HR professionals can bring value to the organisations they serve, now and in future. 
  33. Covering over 30 competencies, the Framework details the functional competencies needed for HR professionals to:
    - Work with business leaders on strategic workforce planning
    - Identify future skill-sets for businesses
    - Develop the workforce's capabilities and keep them engaged and motivated to achieve organisational goals.
  34. The Framework also lays out the foundational competencies needed.  
  35. For example, the competency to use analytics to generate HR insights for forward-planning.
  36. They also need to be adept in utilising technology to deliver HR solutions in an effective and optimal manner.  
  37. Last but not least, it also describes the behaviours expected of HR professionals to not only uphold the integrity and ethics of the profession, but also to adopt a future-oriented perspective so that they can be effective strategic partners to their CEOs in charting the business directions.
  38. In other words, what HR professionals need for them to move from the backroom into the boardroom.  
  39. This framework will provide the basis to support and accelerate the professional development of HR professionals. 
  40. It serves as a benchmark to qualify individual HR capability through holistic assessment and lays out the levels of competencies required from a junior HR professional to a Chief Human Resource Officer.
  41. From 24 Oct 2016, over 100 HR professionals will undertake a pilot certification assessment based on the Framework.  
  42. The pilot will allow the Taskforce to validate the rigour of the assessment approach and test the supporting processes.
  43. Further refinements will be made after the pilot before the full launch of the certification framework middle next year.
  44. I strongly encourage the HR and business community to support this National HR Professional Certification Framework.
  45. This is a significant development to professionalise the HR community to better support human capital development in our future economy.
  46. Through the certification framework: 
    CEOs can expect their HR professionals to be more effective partners in business growth;
    Workers will benefit from progressive people practices, feel more engaged at work and have more opportunities to maximise their potential;
    HR professionals will now have a pathway for professional development and skills upgrading as they advance in their career.
  47. This is a challenging, yet exciting journey.
  48. Every one of us has a role to play – from CEO to operational management and HR practitioners.
  49. Let us embark on this journey of human capital development together, and maximise the potential of our people in a new globalised world of unlimited challenges and opportunities.
  50. Thank you.