May Day speeches target key HR issues

Both MOM and SNEF have urged HR practitioners to step up to current business challenges in areas such as productivity, technology and staffing

In separate May Day messages ahead of Sunday (1 May), both the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) have stressed the need for more efficient HR practices amidst a nationwide labour shortage.
Speaking yesterday (27 April), Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say talked of the challenges presented by Singapore’s ageing population and its reduced reliance on foreign workers.
“Manpower could become the bottleneck of our future growth, unless we speed up efforts to become a more manpower-lean economy and a more productive workforce,” he said. “This is the only way to ensure that businesses can continue to grow, unemployment can stay low while wages can keep moving up.”
He called upon HR to show care for all employees, treating them fairly and ensuring they have ample opportunity for career growth.
“It is to the mutual benefit of employers, unions and workers, with the strong support of the government, to work together to transform our limited manpower resources into our most valued human capital to drive our future growth.”
In his May Day message yesterday, SNEF president Robert Yap listed three ways in which employers could improve productivity despite the current economic challenges.
First, through widespread use of automation and the upgrading of employee skills, firms could counter trends showing workforce growth will plateau from 2020.
New HR practices should also cater for the ageing workforce, he said, adding that the number of resident workers aged 55 years or older has risen from 13.4% to 22.3% from 2006 to 2015. In this environment, it is crucial for employers to help older workers pick up new skills.
Lastly, there is a need for employers to offer higher quality jobs to professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), he said. This stems from rising education levels in Singapore and can only be countered through positions that allow PMEs to take ownership of their personal skills development.
There is also a need for employers to adapt to rapid developments in both technology and business models, he added.
“Companies must be alert and nimble so that they can adapt to these changes and new competitive pressures. They must also invest in their workforce so that their workers have the capabilities to respond quickly to changing business requirements.”
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