Singapore—In a webinar on Tuesday night (September 8), Chan Chun Sing, Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry, said that staying open to top international talent is vital in achieving the country’s aim of being an international business hub.
Mr Chan acknowledged that the issue of global talent has been one that’s received “much scrutiny” of late, but noted, “This scrutiny is not unique to Singapore. Every country facing economic slowdown and recession will have elements questioning the balance between locals and foreigners in the job market.”
The Minister made these remarks when he made the keynote speech webinar entitled “Singapore – the Global Hub and Gateway to Asean,” which is part of the Standard Chartered Asean Series: Singapore.
He explained why it is key for Singapore to have international talent.
“Let me be clear. We want the world’s best and brightest to be with Team Singapore – to augment our skills and capabilities, competing on our side rather than against us, and ultimately, to benefit Singaporeans, not to substitute or hurt them.”
However, the emphasis, he said is on quality and not quantity. Therefore the country will bring global talent in a calibrated way.
“This is not a signal of us turning away from top international talent. But we are serious about discriminatory hiring practices, and we will work with our companies to ensure that they adopt the best practices,” he added.
“We will also like to encourage all our companies to have a diverse workforce, and not overly rely on any particular source of labour from any particular foreign country. This is just part of good business continuity practices and it will also help us in our social integration.
That is how we will continue to keep Singapore relevant as the preferred hub for companies.”
The Trade and Industry Minister asked participants to think about the title of the webinar, particularly about the concepts of being a “global hub” or a “gateway.”
Mr Chan said, “I wondered if it was appropriate to call ourselves the global hub or a global hub. Particularly, in a world that threatens to fragment, what is the role of hubs?”
And is Singapore a gateway, he also asked—a location for companies to merely pass through?
“What’s our value add?” the Minister asked.
He pointed out that as Singapore is a country without “without a natural hinterland” and with its roots in “diverse racial and religious compositions”, it must now “endeavour to build an inclusive, open, and connected society with the world as our hinterland and market.”
In a speech in Parliament last week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong assured that in terms of job creation and hiring, the Government will “always be on the side of Singaporeans.” Employment for foreigners is done with one eye toward growing the economy, raising the standard of living and creating more good jobs for Singaporeans. —/TISG