Building Singapore’s HR community is “particularly important,” says minister

As Singapore’s economy restructures, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck believes it’s “particularly important” for the country to build its HR community. This comes amid the state government efforts to speed up the adoption of fair and progressive HR practices across all sectors.

In November last year, the tripartite initiative Human Capital Partnership (HCP) programme was launched to support progressive employers. In a speech last Thursday, Teo said an HCP company is marked by a “strong partnership” between the CEO and the HR leader.

“The business leader can provide the direction and resources, but without a passionate and strategic HR leader supported by a competent HR team, the commitment to human capital development will come to nought,” said Tan.

He stressed that the development of an HR team is “top priority” because it enables Singapore’s economic transformation through human capital development. Tan called on HR professionals to “adapt and grow” to effectively help their businesses during the transformation journey.

Tan cited research commissioned by the Workforce Development Agency. It revealed that HR and business leaders believe HR professionals have yet to acquire all the skillsets required to meet emerging needs.

“Many are preoccupied with performing transactional tasks such as recruiting to fill vacant positions and ensuring salary is paid on time,” said Tan. “These are necessary, but not enough priority is placed on becoming better strategic business partners, providing solutions to strengthen human capital, to deal with the changes in our employment landscape, and managing employee relations and engagement.”

Among other things, Tan said HR professionals need to:

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  • build up their business and financial acumen to better understand the business and manpower environment
  • have capabilities to implement a hiring process that move from qualifications-based to skills-based. be adept at using data and applying analytics to guide decisions in staff deployment, training and talent development
  • be proficient in leveraging technology to handle transactional HR operations

The minister also announced the successful completion of a pilot assessment on a national HR certification framework. The framework was first introduced in October last year and covers over 30 foundational and functional competencies, as well as the mindsets and behaviours HR professionals need at different career stages to be more effective.

Over 100 HR professionals from 40 small- and medium-sized enterprises and multinational firms in sectors such as food & beverage, retail, government, finance, and logistics and telecommunications volunteered to go through the pilot.

The certification assessment is scenario-based – it tests not just knowledge, but also its application in situations that HR professionals are likely to come across. “HR professionals are thus assessed on their competencies and behaviours through their responses to these scenarios,” said to Teo.

To move the certification framework beyond the pilot phase, the tripartite partners (i.e. Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress, Singapore National Employers Federation) have come together to set up the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP).

IHRP will be the tripartite professional body to implement and drive adoption of this national HR certification, which will be known as “IHRP Certification.” It will start accepting applications for IHRP certification assessment from July this year, according to Tan.

“[T]he move to strengthen the HR profession in Singapore cannot be seen in a vacuum. The economic and labour market realities of today, and in the future, demand that we value our people and support their development,” he said.

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