Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song (Aljunied): Mr Chairman, I declare that I am a director of a local SME providing technology consulting services. SMEs face many challenges in attracting and retaining local talent. There is sometimes a bias against working for SMEs in favour of MNCs, GLCs or the Civil Service. Many SMEs try their best to attract local talent, for example, by offering competitive salaries, but with mixed results.
We need to help our SMEs attract more local talent if we are to nurture globally competitive, homegrown firms. I propose three ways to help them achieve this.
First, in both the classroom and at home, teachers and parents could encourage our young people to broaden their career aspirations and widen their definition of success. Not every child needs to aspire to be a doctor, lawyer, banker or government scholar. Many SMEs provide incredible opportunities to learn different skills and take on multiple roles.
Second, there needs to be a rebranding of SMEs as employers of choice. We have many local enterprises made good. We could do more to profile SMEs both in the media, and also as business case studies within classrooms.
Third, Enterprise Singapore could assist more SME managers to adopt modern management practices. They could be provided easier access to certified executive coaches who can provide one-to-one guidance on improving their management approaches. I believe all these could help our local SMEs become more attractive workplaces for Singaporeans to work and enlarge the SMEs’ talent pool.
Ministry of Trade and Industry
2 March 2021