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Welcome address at IHRP Certification Conferment Ceremony

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Manpower, One Farrer Hotel & Spa

Ms Aileen Tan

Chairperson, National HR Professional Certification Taskforce

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Evening,

  1. It is my pleasure to join you today to mark a key milestone in our efforts to strengthen the HR profession.

Business Transformation Needed to Remain Competitive

  1. Let me explain why building up our HR community is particularly important at this juncture as our economy restructures.
  2. As business leaders and HR professionals, Singapore’s labour market realities would be well-known to you. With an ageing population and low birth rates, our local labour force growth is heading for stagnation over the next 10 years. At the same time, we are experiencing increased global competition and the onslaught of disruptive technology.
  3. Singapore needs to transform quickly to an economy driven by innovation and productivity to take advantage of new opportunities that arise.
  4. Companies also need to transform quickly to remain competitive. First, leveraging technology and continually seeking out new innovations is a must. Under Transform & Grow, we have strengthened the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme (LEDS) this year, for example by providing companies with 71 pre-qualified solutions, including those under the SMEs Go Digital Programme, to drive productivity improvement, skills development and innovation across each industry. More than 3,000 companies have benefitted under LEDS since its inception in 2015.

Developing Human Capital to Support Business Transformation

  1. Second, and increasingly important in our manpower-lean economy, is to unlock the potential of our people to drive business growth and transformation. Just as companies need to transform in order to grow, so too are our people. They need to “Adapt & Grow” to stay relevant in the transformed economy. Companies play a big part. They need to invest in developing their people, their ‘human capital’, at every stage of their career. Without a trained and skilled workforce, companies would not be able to adopt technology effectively. Neither would companies be able to drive their expansion into new markets if workers are not continually upskilling and reskilling to keep abreast of market demands. This is why companies need to develop the skills and experiences of their workers of all ages and at all levels.
  2. This is what distinguishes our pioneering batch of companies under the Human Capital Partnership Programme (HCP) from the rest. These HCP companies, and many of them are here today – Singtel, DBS, Keppel, Hyflux, Atlas Sound & Vision, YCH Group and NTUC, take active measures to support human capital development because they know this is the key to business transformation.

HR’s Role in Developing Human Capital

  1. Behind each HCP company is a strong partnership between the CEO and the HR leader. The business leader can provide the direction and resources, but without a passionate and strategic HR leader supported by a competent HR team, the commitment to human capital development will come to nought.
  2. The development of a competent HR team is therefore a top priority because it is a key enabler of our economic transformation through human capital development. As we urge our workforce to upskill and reskill, so too must our HR professionals “Adapt & Grow” to more effectively partner their businesses in the transformation journey.
  3. There is a clarion call to action. In a WDA commissioned HR Manpower Study, both HR and business leaders say our HR professionals have yet to acquire all the skillsets required to meet emerging needs. Many are preoccupied with performing transactional tasks such as recruiting to fill vacant positions and ensuring salary is paid on time. These are necessary, but not enough priority is placed on becoming better strategic business partners, providing solutions to strengthen human capital, to deal with the changes in our employment landscape, and managing employee relations and engagement.
  4. HR professionals need to build up their business and financial acumen, to better understand the business and manpower environment to develop strategic workforce plans. They need to have capabilities to implement a hiring process that move from qualifications-based to skills-based. They need to be adept at using data and applying analytics to guide decisions in staff deployment, training and talent development. They should also be proficient in leveraging technology to handle transactional HR operations.

Update on National HR Certification Pilot Assessment

  1. The development of a national HR certification framework is therefore a key, and timely initiative to strengthen the HR community to better enable human capital development.
  2. The framework, which was first introduced in October last year, covers over 30 foundational and functional competencies, as well as the mindsets and behaviours HR professionals need at different career stages to be more effective.
  3. As the certification assessment is scenario-based, it tests not just knowledge, but more importantly, its application in situations that HR professionals are likely to come across. HR professionals are thus assessed on their competencies and behaviours through their responses to these scenarios.
  4. I am happy to announce the successful completion of the pilot assessment. Over 100 HR professionals from 40 SMEs and MNCs in sectors such as F&B, retail, government, finance, logistics and telecommunications, gamely volunteered to go through this pilot.
  5. The successful completion of the pilot assessment is significant on three fronts. First, it reflects our tripartite partners’ and the HR community’s keen interest and support in strengthening the HR profession in Singapore. In particular, I would like to recognise the tripartite taskforce comprising HR industry leaders and tripartite partners who worked hard to develop this certification framework, including building the question bank and marking the papers for the pilot assessment.
  6. Second, it shows employers’ belief in the value of certification and their support in building up their HR teams. Hence, I am delighted many of the supervisors of the pilot participants are here with us this evening. Thank you for supporting the development of your HR professionals so they can make meaningful and impactful contributions to your company’s business growth and success.
  7. Third, it reflects the strong commitment of the HR professionals who participated in the pilot assessment to continually hone their skills. Mr Khairul Azhar Bin Khalid, a HR Manager at AXS Pte Ltd is one of them. Khairul was initially sceptical about undergoing certification. However, through the process, he realised its developmental value and the importance of continual learning and re-learning to be an effective HR manager and business partner. He now makes it a priority to understand his company’s business goals so as to better develop people strategies for his organisation.
  8. Let me extend my heartiest congratulations to the pioneer batch of 88 HR professionals who have successfully completed the certification assessment. I urge you to continue on this journey of professional development and skills-deepening, and put these to good use in your respective organisations.

Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP)

  1. To operationalise the certification framework beyond the pilot phase, the tripartite partners (viz. MOM, NTUC, SNEF) have come together to set up the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP). IHRP will be the tripartite professional body to implement and drive adoption of this national HR certification, which will be known as “IHRP Certification”. IHRP will be accepting applications for IHRP certification assessment from July this year.
  2. Ms Goh Swee Chen, Chairperson of Shell Companies in Singapore and SNEF Council Vice President, will lead this effort as Chairman of the IHRP Board. Besides Swee Chen, the IHRP Board comprises representatives from the tripartite partners, business leaders and HR professionals across different industries.
  3. For the IHRP certification to be widely adopted, we need the support of all stakeholders. The IHRP certification will engender greater HR contribution to business owners and build stronger industrial relations with unions. There is every reason for employers and unions to support the IHRP certification. The IHRP would also open new opportunities for collaboration among HR industry players, such as in HR training and development, leading to a more cohesive HR ecosystem. Most importantly, HR professionals themselves should participate, as it is a developmental tool that will help them be more ready to support both their CEOs and workforce through business transformation.
  4. More details on IHRP’s plans will be shared later this year.

Other new initiatives

  1. While the IHRP certification framework sets the benchmark for the competencies and behaviours of future-ready HR professionals, a HR professional’s career and skills development is a continuous process – one that starts before certification and continues even after achieving certification. Hence, we are also progressively putting in place other initiatives to help HR professionals develop and grow throughout their careers.
  2. For example, the SkillsFuture HR Earn & Learn Programme, supported by Nanyang Polytechnic and Republic Polytechnic, gives fresh graduates from polytechnics and the ITEs a head-start in building their career in HR through real-world experience. It also puts them in a good position to be certified after 2 years. Since its launch in May, more than 20 employers have already come on board to offer Earn & Learn places in their companies.
  3. The Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for HR Professionals started in February this year, equips mid-career PMETs with the necessary competencies articulated in the certification framework. This will enable them to take up HR management roles.
  4. Finally, certified HR professionals would need to continually upgrade themselves to progress in their HR careers and maintain their certification status. They would be able to tap on the SkillsFuture Study Award for HR to be launched in the middle of next month, which provides support to 50 HR professionals annually, to develop and deepen their skills in the sector.
  5. Collectively, IHRP certification and these other initiatives to strengthen the HR profession form part of a wider HR Industry Manpower Plan that will be unveiled later this year.


  1. Ladies and Gentlemen, the move to strengthen the HR profession in Singapore cannot be seen in a vacuum. The economic and labour market realities of today, and in the future, demand that we value our people and support their development. A strong HR sector will help enable this outcome for our workforce, and I urge all stakeholders to support this effort.
  2. Have a pleasant evening ahead.