Firms must invest in local staff, vary foreign workforce: Minister
Chan: Businesses should diversify foreign workforce
Businesses should diversify their foreign workforce and avoid being reliant on manpower from any one place, just as Singapore avoids depending on a single source of revenue or resources, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said yesterday.
They should also invest to develop local workers and give them opportunities to upgrade and advance, he added.
Mr Chan was speaking at a bicentennial commemoration dinner organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.
About 720 people, including government officials, diplomats and business leaders, attended the event.
Mr Chan acknowledged that it could be more expedient to recruit from a more familiar source but said: "Businesses should also diversify your foreign workforce as an important step in managing your concentration risks. Diversification is an important part of business continuity."
Also, more can be done to help foreign workers better settle in Singapore: "As our multi-cultural social norms can be rather unfamiliar to foreign employees, it is important that businesses also play a part in integrating them into our companies and into our society."
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo had said last month that around the world, anxieties about being overtaken by "outsiders" have given rise to perverse outcomes, and at workplaces here, there is heightened sensitivity towards being treated fairly and having local norms respected.
She said then that employers can help push back against such negative forces by practising fair hiring and advancement.
Mr Chan reiterated a similar message yesterday as he urged employers to continue to commit to fair and progressive employment practices.
He flagged the development of the local workforce as one important aspect in this area.
But ultimately, Singapore is a multiracial and multicultural country, and its forefathers come from diverse origins, said Mr Chan.
It must continue to protect and weave its social fabric, while also welcoming people who can contribute in meaningful ways, regardless of their background.
Said Mr Chan: "While we may not have a sufficiently long shared history or common ancestry to define our national identity, we can instead take pride and believe that we can all have a forward-looking identity based on a set of common values.