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Speech at Engagement Session with Human Capital Partners and Tripartite Alliance Award Recipients

Minister for Manpower Mrs Josephine Teo , Devan Nair Institute

Distinguished guests, partners and colleagues,

I am happy to be among a group of exemplary employers today.

Majority of employers are fair employers

  1. When I meet my foreign counterparts, I am often asked about Singapore’s formula to managing our manpower to support our continued growth – as a country, economy and for our people. My response is always that we take a balanced, calibrated approach that is both pro-worker and pro-business.

  2. The updated Fair Consideration Framework that I announced last month reflects the Government’s stern view of unfair employers, and our determination to weed out all forms of workplace discrimination. This is a necessary step, to ensure that our workers continue to get fair opportunities, and benefit from Singapore’s growth.

  3. Fortunately, this group of unfair employers is a small minority. In labour-constrained Singapore, businesses have a natural incentive to adopt sustainable employment practices, and the vast majority of companies are fair employers. We will continue to support them to provide good employment opportunities and develop local workers.

    Community of exemplary employers is growing

  4. Exemplary employers, like our Human Capital Partners and Tripartite Alliance Award winners here today, go a few steps further to keep employees at the heart of their business. Beyond embracing a mindset of doing right by their employees, these employers put commitment into action – through long-term people strategies which are core to their business plans, and deliberate effort to meet the changing needs of their workforce.

  5. I am heartened that this community of exemplary employers continues to grow.

    - Today, we welcome 28 new Human Capital Partners. They come from a wide variety of sectors such as financial services, food services, info comm, marine and precision engineering.
    - We now have more than 600 Human Capital Partners. They provide good employment for more than 200,000 locals, which is about 8% of our total local workforce. Local PMETs account for about 90% of their total PMET workforce. Even at the senior to top levels, more than 85% are locals.


    Harnessing the expertise and experience of mature workers

  6. Let me share how our exemplary employers tackle a key challenge faced by companies today – attracting and retaining talent for their changing business needs.

  7. First, our exemplary employers identify opportunities to harness the expertise and experience of our mature workers. The seniors in our workforce have much to contribute. Enabling them to do so through different phases of a company’s growth and transformation can be a boon to the business.

    - Mencast, a new Human Capital Partner, is one such company.
    - Mencast is an SME that manufactures and repairs ship propellers.
    - They used to make propellers by hand with simple tools, which was a very slow and labour-intensive process.
    - Last year, Mencast decided to switch to 3D printing technology to create propeller prototypes. This raised productivity and cut down production time by a third.
    - Mencast had 9 employees in this line of work, all of whom are aged 60 and above. The company tapped on the WorkPro Job Redesign Grant to redesign their labour-intensive jobs and train them to operate the 3D printers.
    - It has been a win-win outcome for both Mencast and its employees. Mencast benefits from increased productivity. At the same time, 62-year old Mr Abdul Jamal bin Surin and the 8 other employees whose jobs were redesigned also benefit from new skills to stay relevant, and jobs that are easier, safer and smarter.

    Enabling work-life harmony for better business and workforce outcomes

  8. Second, our exemplary employers create workplaces that provide work-life harmony, while allowing staff to achieve their full potential. Work-life initiatives are important for employee retention and job satisfaction. It also leads to a more productive and committed workforce that can help the company achieve better business outcomes.

  9. One company that has recognised this is Tripartite Alliance Award winner and Human Capital Partner - Rajah & Tann - one of Singapore’s largest law firms.
    - In spite of the demanding and fast-paced nature of the legal industry, leaders in Rajah & Tann believe in supporting their employees’ lives outside of work.
    - This includes offering part-time and telecommuting arrangements.
    - Rajah & Tann has seen an increasing number of employees keen on taking up these arrangements. 10 employees are on part-time work arrangements, and more than 300 employees, or 60% of their workforce, regularly telecommute.
    - One employee who has benefitted is Ms Chou Ching. She joined the firm in 2017 on a 4-day work week. As a mother of 3 young children, the greatest benefit of having flexibility at work was the extra time that she got to spend with her children. She was able to pick them up from school, volunteer at their school, and attend their school events. She also continued to perform very well at work, and was promoted to Equity Partner.

    Employers are starting to take the lead to champion sustainable employment practices

  10. Like Mencast and Rajah & Tann, all of you here today have your own progressive practices that distinguish you as an exemplary employer. It is proof that employers of any size, sector and stage of growth can be progressive.

  11. I am also encouraged that businesses are coming together to proactively and voluntarily champion sustainable employment practices.

  12. In Nov 2019, the Singapore Business Federation, in consultation with the business community, released a report titled “Sustainable Employment – Achieving Purposeful Business Success Together”.

  13. To date, about 100 companies from a wide range of sectors have pledged to provide a work environment that treats every employee with respect and dignity, upskill their employees, and help mature employees make meaningful contributions through job redesign.

  14. These organic efforts from the business community clearly show that sustainable employment practices not only benefit employees, but also contribute to business success.

    Supporting fair and progressive employers

  15. The tripartite partners will continue to support our fair and exemplary employers to be pro-worker and pro-business.

  16. Today, Human Capital Partners benefit from green-lane access to Adapt & Grow schemes, a dedicated hotline for transactions with MOM, and invites to exclusive events, including an annual dialogue with MOM on Budget and Committee of Supply announcements. Such support helps our exemplary employers plan ahead, and further strengthen their workforce to grow their business.

  17. We will be doing more for fair and exemplary employers. Those who make upskilling their employees, as well as hiring and retaining older workers a key part of their business and workforce strategy can look forward to a boost in Government support. More details will be shared at Budget 2020 next week.

    Conclusion

  18. I encourage all of you to continue the good work you are doing. Fair and sustainable employment practices make business sense. When you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business.

  19. I look forward to hearing how you have taken the lead to put in place progressive practices during our dialogue later. Thank you.