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11 Oct 2019 Updated 11 Oct 2019

Companies get help to build Global Ready Talent

The Business Times Leila Lai

In order to maintain its competitive edge, Singapore needs talent with the right expertise and networks to help local enterprises reach more overseas markets, said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Thursday.

One way to build up this talent pool is by exposing young people to overseas work opportunities, which is the goal of Enterprise Singapore's new Global Ready Talent (GRT) programme. It aims to build a pipeline of talent that supports the global aspirations of Singapore companies by co-funding the overseas stints they offer and linking up students and young people with these opportunities.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Mr Chan said the competitiveness of Singapore's economy "boils down to the competitiveness of our enterprises and workers".

"For enterprises, we keep urging them to innovate their products and processes, and expand their markets. But in order for the enterprises to do that well, talent is a critical enabler."

Mr Chan said the programme hopes to create greater awareness among young people of the markets and issues beyond Singapore, and have them bring back new ideas and in-depth knowledge of other markets.

The cross-cultural skills they develop will enable them to operate across cultures and nationalities and improve their career prospects, as multinational corporations often look for people with diverse experiences beyond Singapore to fill top positions.

Enterprise Singapore will provide funding of up to 70 per cent for allowances and salaries to local enterprises under the GRT programme.

The opportunities they offer can be local and overseas internships for students from the Institutes of Technical Education, polytechnics and local universities, as well as management associate positions that send fresh graduates or young employees with up to three years of work experience to regional markets for at least one year.

So far, 60 Singapore companies have signed up to offer 110 overseas internship positions and 86 management positions in a variety of industries. A majority of the overseas placement positions will be in South-east Asia, China and India.

Damien Lam, who heads local startup Ollohub, hopes the GRT programme will create greater awareness of the regional opportunities available to young people. While it takes guts and mental strength to choose to work in a place like Laos, as opposed to more glamorous places like New York and Tokyo, the learning experience is much richer in developing countries, he said.

"There's a big difference between doing an internship in Singapore where you're just somebody in a big company, and doing an overseas internship. You can play a much more significant role, get involved in developing strategies and practise what you've learnt."

Chew Chin Seong, deputy managing director of Maha Chemicals (Asia), cited the funding component of the GRT programme as a key incentive for resource-strapped small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest in young talent.

"If we want to have faster results, we will hire experienced personnel and would not spend on young talent without any experience. With this co-funding support from the government, it is a very good, heartwarming initiative to build up Singaporeans," Mr Chew said.

"Singapore is a small economy, so Singaporeans must have exposure to the region and neighbouring countries. In this case, (the young people) will gain relevant knowledge that eventually can help SMEs like us."


Source: The Business Times. Reproduced with permission.