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Financial sector banks on new portal to attract local talent

Citibank, DBS and PwC have advertised more than 200 positions on the Jobs Bank.

SINGAPORE: The financial sector, in which the Government has voiced the need to develop a Singaporean core, is embracing the Jobs Bank to tap into the local talent pool, with banks offering a large number of positions weeks after the recruitment portal was launched by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) as a key component of the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF).

Citibank has advertised more than 200 positions on the portal, including 67 at the vice-president level, hoping to attract a steady stream of candidates. DBS, the largest local bank, has drawn hundreds of applications for the 25 vacancies it posted and professional services giant PwC has also received close to 300 applications for the 50 positions it advertised.

In a bid to ensure that employers reach out to local job-seekers first, the FCF requires companies to advertise a job vacancy on the Jobs Bank website for 14 days before they can offer that job to an Employment Pass holder. DBS is one of the more than 8,200 companies that have registered with the website since it went live last month.

“The 25 positions we have posted are primarily in the areas of consumer banking as well as technology and operations. We have received hundreds of applications for these jobs and are in the midst of shortlisting suitable candidates,” said DBS human resources head Theresa Phua.

She added that DBS also planned to advertise for senior positions, which carry a salary above S$12,000 a month and are exempted from the FCF requirements, on the website.

The positions that PwC has advertised on the Jobs Bank include those for senior managers for deal advisory, regional consulting and risk assurance.

“We are pleased with the response we have received and expect applications to increase as people get familiar with the portal. But it is still too early to judge the effectiveness of the platform, given that we only started a few weeks ago,” said PwC’s human capital leader Sam Kok Weng.

MOVE TOWARDS SINGAPOREAN CORE

The launch of the Jobs Bank came after the Government voiced the need to groom locals for key positions in the financial sector, a priority which Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam highlighted in June at the Institute of Banking and Finance’s anniversary dinner.

“We have to continue to build globally competitive teams in Singapore, by proactively developing our Singaporean core while remaining open to foreign professionals with needed specialised experience,” he said.

Human resources experts said that while the move to list positions in the Jobs Bank reflects the financial sector’s move towards a Singaporean core, the FCF may exacerbate the hiring difficulties for an industry that is facing a talent shortage.

Mr George McFerran, managing director for eFinancialCareers Asia Pacific, said: “The vast majority of financial services firms do prefer hiring Singaporeans because they understand local working cultures, have established professional networks and pose a lower risk than hiring a foreign candidate.

“However, they often look to hire foreign candidates for in-demand or niche areas such as private equity, compliance and cybersecurity. In this situation, although the FCF does not restrict them from hiring foreign candidates, it may slow down an already lengthy hiring process,” he said.

As the FCF requires organisations to review their hiring policies and spend more time and effort in screening applicants, additional resources are also needed to ensure compliance, said Ms Joanne Chua, associate director of recruitment agency Robert Walters. “It would be advisable for organisations to retain records to show that the hiring process was non-discriminatory and fair at all times,” she added.

These concerns aside, Citibank is confident that the Jobs Bank will be increasingly useful. “As open positions can be posted at no cost, it is beneficial for organisations … We are confident that over time, the Jobs Bank will have a wide reach and a steady stream of candidates,” said Citibank’s human resources head Evangeline Chua.

Meanwhile, the Jobs Bank continues to gain traction, with vacancies advertised having grown three-fold since last month to more than 50,000 as at Aug 6, WDA’s senior director for workforce services Choo Lee See said.

“About 60 per cent of these vacancies are relevant for PMEs (professionals, managers and executives). Based on the vacancies in July, 88 per cent offer over S$3,000 in monthly pay, 44 per cent offer more than S$4,500 and 13 per cent offer more than S$8,000,” she said.

“More than 9,000 local individuals collectively made more than 79,000 job applications through the website. We are encouraged that the Jobs Bank has been warmly received by both employers and individuals,” she added.

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