Recently, NTUC deputy secretary-general Chee Hong Tat shared the story of a Singaporean who had been asked by a HR practitioner during his interview what SAF was. This gives rise to the question if the job of HR practitioners in Singapore should be ringfenced for Singaporeans. Mr Chee pointed out that it would be imperative for hiring managers to understand Singapore and collective narratives of being Singaporean – such as serving National Service.
Three-pronged approach to protect our Singaporean core
In his Facebook post, Mr Chee also shared a simple three-pronged approach to help local workers:
1) Encourage companies to “think local” while we prepare to “go global”.
2) Invest even more in lifelong learning and skills upgrading of local workers.
3) Sharpen the incentives and recognition for good employers who build strong #Singaporean Core.
Encourage companies that go the extra mile in HR practices
Mr Chee said that more should be done to recognise companies with good HR practices, such as those working closely with unions.
Currently, there is a differentiation made for good employers versus those with poor HR practices. However, Mr Chee suggests that more can be done to recognise the companies such as giving them more favourable consideration for government tenders, projects and grants.
By recognising and giving good employers a competitive advantage, we are sending the message that it is important to “invest in building a strong Singaporean core and develop strong tripartite relations”.
What else can be done
Companies can look towards equipping all their HR practitioners with local domain knowledge. This helps them better understand local workers during the hiring process. This would help them understand the “Singapore experience” and the skills that Singaporean workers may have acquired through those experiences.
In addition, ringfencing of HR jobs could be considered for locals to deter the unfair hiring of foreigners. We’ve all heard stories of how some foreign HR practitioners take the chance to “hire their own kind”. Some even “bring their entire village over” after they land a job in Singapore! This is not fair to Singaporeans and companies with a high proportion of foreigners should be placed on a watchlist.
This sentiment has also been echoed by Labour MP Patrick Tay in Parliament multiple times. He has called for the protection of the Singaporean core through having greater penalties on errant companies.
Editing is my work.