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Opening Address at IHRP's People Behind People Forum 2023

Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower, Sands Convention Centre

Mrs Deborah Ong, Chairperson of the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP)
Mr Aslam Sardar, CEO of IHRP

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen


1. Good morning. I am delighted to join you at the Institute for Human Resource Professionals’ (IHRP) People Behind People Forum 2023.

2. Now in its fourth year, the Forum has grown from strength to strength. I am pleased to note that today, we have with us more than 600 delegates representing over 80 organisations from diverse sectors and industries.

3. The scale of the event shows the progress that IHRP has made in setting the national benchmark of excellence for the HR professionals. It also speaks volumes about how passionate our local community is on human capital issues.

4. In today’s hypercompetitive environment, businesses must adapt quickly to succeed. Having a ready team to ride the waves of change will be your firm’s key sustainable competitive advantage.

5. To this end, HR professionals must re-imagine the future of work and unpack the impact of external trends on your organisations. This includes shaping the organisation’s workforce strategies to foster sustainable growth and innovation, and to adapt to the ever-evolving nature of work. IHRP has aptly summed up how HR can play a critical role and act as a key enabler to support business and workforce transformation in the 3As reflected in the theme of today’s forum.

i. First, how organisations must Adapt for the future of workforce;

ii. Second, Augment with Technology;

iii. And lastly Accelerate progressive people practices.

Adapting to the future of workforce and Augmenting the future with HR Tech


6. Let me first talk about how organisations can adapt to challenges and augment their chances of success.

7. Earlier this year, MOM announced a five-year HR Industry Transformation Plan (HR ITP) which sets out a roadmap to strengthen the HR profession and raise HR capabilities. HR must be an offensive strategy because it is about hunting for, attracting and retaining talent, and always keeping talent on the edge – sharp, precise and forward-looking.

8. One key strategy was to adopt and leverage technology. Beyond digitalisation of HR processes like payroll processing or appraisal management, I strongly encourage HR to support your respective organisations in harnessing the potential of technology to improve your productivity.

9. This means developing capabilities in job redesign. Job redesign will be needed to make sure that technology is used effectively, with tasks and roles adjusted to fit the changing work environment in a precise manner. It will be critical to optimising any organisation’s human potential, to meet ever increasing employees’ aspirational needs, improve overall employee talent retention, and continue positive encouragement and engagement.

WSG and IHRP launch the Job Redesign Centre of Excellence (JRCoE)

10. I am happy to announce that Workforce Singapore, in collaboration with IHRP, is launching the Job Redesign Centre of Excellence (JRCoE). The JRCoE will serve as a one-stop touchpoint for all enterprises. It is indeed encouraging that 21 trade associations and chambers representing 14 industry sectors have pledged their support for the JRCoE.

11. The JRCoE will be guided by an expert panel comprising tripartite partners, academics and industry-recognised professionals from the HR, legal and business community.

12. During the fireside chat later, we will hear more from Singtel, one of the first movers on job redesign in Singapore, on the benefits they have reaped since embarking on their first job redesign journey in 2021.

13. But as a teaser, I will share that Singtel has transformed jobs for more than 2,500 employees. Today, if you were to contact Singtel’s customer service, chances are that you might be interacting with a Care Advisor whose role was transformed with the support of Workforce Singapore’s Productivity Solutions Grant for Job Redesign (PSG-JR). Compared to the earlier role of a Customer Care Officer, a Singtel Care Advisor now has an expanded portfolio and possesses more advanced skillsets. For instance, the Care Advisors are now equipped with the relevant digital skills to manage multiple products and to perform more complex tasks while delivering better customer experience. Singtel has also reviewed their pay packages and introduced a structured career progression pathway, leading to more productive and more engaged employees.

14. I invite everyone to tap on the JRCoE to drive your respective business transformation efforts and unlock and harness the full potential of your workforce.

Accelerating with the future of progressive people practices

15. Next, allow me to speak on why we must accelerate the adoption of progressive people practices.

16. Earlier this year, I announced that MOM is working on a career health initiative to encourage every worker to take care of their own “career health”. It is like a gym where you train, where every employee should take an active interest in their own biodatas, learn how the industry is moving, and see where they are vis-à-vis the transformation or disruptions that are happening across the industry. It then allows them to build their own career, go for courses to upgrade themselves, continue to maintain not just employment resilience, but also improve their prospects by seeking out adjacencies in terms of skills training, so that they can move on to different career trajectories for career and productive longevity. Just like physical health, all of us have to actively take care of our career health. We hope that with the support of all of you, you can continue to nudge your employees and yourselves, as senior management and as human resource professionals, to think along the same ways.

17. It is not counterintuitive, because what we are doing is to put the ownership of their own career progression back into their own hands. Even if you do not offer your employees opportunities, other companies will offer them, and your employees may eventually end up seeking opportunities with these other companies. So, it is good that all of us, collectively, go onto this bandwagon and move it together. It will be in your interest to support every employee in building up their career health. It will help not just to retain your talent, it will also be able to attract talent from other jurisdictions and improve employee engagement. This will improve your employees’ value proposition, as well as enhance the nimbleness and agility of your respective businesses.

18. I hope that I have been able to convince you on why we want to do this, the next question is how we do it. You may ask how then should your respective businesses transform your talent recruitment and development strategies? As an entrepreneur in the past, we think of the 3Rs – Recruitment, Retention, and Retraining.

19. On this, I am excited to announce that MOM has initiated an Alliance for Action (AfA) on Widening Access to Talent. Through this AfA, we hope to empower employers like yourselves to expand your reach of talent and to test solutions that will help you to do so. The AfA will be led by members of your own community from the private sector -- Dr Bicky Bhangu, President of Rolls Royce SEA, Pacific and South Korea and Ms Aileen Tan, Group Chief People and Sustainability Officer at Singtel. Dr Bicky will ensure alignment with business outcomes, while Ms Aileen will provide expertise on human capital issues. Combining expertise and buy-in from both the business and the HR community, the AfA will identify common talent attraction and retention challenges, and work together to co-create solutions to help employers hire talent with transferable skillsets and develop their own internal talent pool.

20. The AfA will have a sectoral focus to ideate and test solutions to widen the talent pool for hiring. The identified sectors, for a start, are: Manufacturing, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), and Retail. The AfA members will comprise companies representing various sectors, as well as Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs), and will be supported by our Tripartite partners. I hope that you will all have a fruitful and productive exchange amongst the different AfA members in test-bedding some of these initiatives. For the rest who are not involved in the AfA, please look out for the report and get inspired by the ideas generated by the AfA.


21. In conclusion, there are plentiful and abundant opportunities to co-create a stronger HR ecosystem for organisations to become future-proof and future-ready, and for our workforce to become resilient and to have that competitive advantage. I believe that you will have that opportunity at the forum today. At the same time, we also want to celebrate our HR leaders who are accelerating the future of progressive people practices. At this juncture, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to the four HR leaders who will be conferred recognition as IHRP Master Professionals. This is the pinnacle of the IHRP Certification, reserved only for top HR leaders who actively contribute to the HR industry.

22. We look forward expectantly and with much zeal to working with you for the continued growth and professional development of the HR community. We wish everyone an engaging, productive, and fruitful forum ahead. Thank you very much.