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Businesses get support to invest more in ‘human capital’, grow digital capabilities

SINGAPORE — Moving from a “human resources” to a “human capital” mindset will be key in Singapore’s new phase of growth, Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said on Wednesday (Feb 7), as she outlined measures to help companies achieve this.

Businesses get support to invest more in ‘human capital’, grow digital capabilities

With globalisation, automation and the rise of the digital workplace as well as mobile workforces, the way businesses function and compete today has changed from 40 or 50 years ago, said Second Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs Josephine Teo. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — Moving from a “human resources” to a “human capital” mindset will be key in Singapore’s new phase of growth, Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said on Wednesday (Feb 7), as she outlined measures to help companies achieve this.

These include boosting programmes that help employers to transform their business strategies and that support workers in picking up fresh skills.

Speaking at a forum organised by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), Mrs Teo said, for example, that the SNEF Agency for Productivity Practices, Human Resource and Industrial Relations (Sapphire), which was launched last year, has been helping companies to enhance their competitiveness, with a keen focus on the human capital strategy.

Employers may consider Sapphire’s expanded Technology-enabled Workplace Transformation Programme, which grants companies a 70 per cent subsidy for up to 100 consulting hours.

More than 100 companies, mostly small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have started on or completed the Sapphire programme, which helps them to tackle the challenges of introducing new technology.

At the forum, Mrs Teo also launched a new SNEFDigital initiative. It aims to help companies, especially SMEs, adopt digital technology, equip their employees with digital skills, and build capabilities among human resource professionals.

Under this initiative, masterclasses for digital skills and workplace transformation courses for business leaders, managers and employees will be rolled out progressively from the second quarter of this year.

Participants can expect to find out more about emerging technologies, be trained in digital marketing skills where they learn how to use social media, do online marketing and advertising, and use data analytics to help in recruitment processes, for instance.

Courses will last two to three days on average and will cost between S$500 and S$700 per person before subsidy.


One other avenue of support for companies that want to start investing more in their human capital is the Institute for Human Resource Professionals, set up by the tripartite partners of the Manpower Ministry, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and SNEF. The institute aims to build a stronger human resource sector to partner business leaders who are developing their workforce and transforming their businesses.

Companies may also look to the Adapt and Grow initiative administered by Workforce Singapore and the Employment and Employability Institute, where wage and training support are available for employers and jobseekers. Businesses may expand their available talent pool to include mid-career professionals, managers, executives, technicians (PMETs), who can “re-skill to enter new job roles and growth areas”, Mrs Teo said.

She added that some companies have already started to develop and nurture employees “across all career stages”, particularly under the Human Capital Partnership Programme, another tripartite initiative that began in 2016.

These companies are leaning towards an inclusive workforce by deploying at-risk workers into new growth areas and letting them learn new skills, for instance, or hiring and re-hiring older workers.

Others have built a pipeline of Singaporean workers who have global exposure and can take on senior leadership roles, or they have helped to transfer new skills, capabilities and knowledge from foreign employees to their Singapore workers.


Companies interviewed by TODAY agreed that these programmes and initiatives would provide an added level of support as they bump up their digital capabilities and train their workers.

Logistics company Shalom Movers, for example, is looking to launch a revamped and more user-friendly website by this year, its chief executive Gideon Lam said.

On its part, learning to do digital marketing will help the company engage with customers and place them on loyalty programmes, for example, he said.

“People think we are just providing home mover services, but now our services have evolved across different areas like food, retail and urban logistics. We are involved in... shipping, logistics, e-commerce logistics and much more... so companies need to move out of their comfort zones and be (innovative in doing things),” he said.

For KFC and Pizza Hut Singapore, the fast-food company piloted a mobile application last November. Staff members use it for short learning modules, such as watching animated videos about food hygiene, its human resources director Darren Lim said. More than 1,000 employees have gone through the modules using the app.

There are plans to add more modules covering compliance to halal food requirements, and human resource and finance compliance for managers later this year.

Training and workshops used to take about eight to 10 hours, but the app helps to cut down on the duration because “a lot of pre-learning and awareness” has been created through the app.

The only hurdle companies have to overcome is getting its people to have forward-thinking “mindset”.

While employees might be ready to embrace new learning, some may be apprehensive, afraid that such technologies might make their jobs redundant. “But now, they can do much more with their time, by learning new skills like designing online modules,” Mr Lim said.

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