SINGAPORE: As companies continue to internationalise, IE Singapore has come up with strategies to help build a pipeline of talents with global experience.
According to IE Singapore, around one-quarter of companies polled in 2014 said they have staff engaged in overseas-related work. Of these, around half are in PME roles. Four in 10 companies also said they intend to assign or recruit more staff for overseas-related work.
At a press briefing on Wednesday (Jun 22), the trade agency added that it wants to help companies meet the manpower demand for talent with global experience.
Said Ms Angeline Chan, group director of the Capability Development Group at IE Singapore: "We all know that Singapore is a global economy. Our citizens are also very global-oriented. For the next lap of our progression, the idea is, how ... we can (prepare) our Singaporeans to be global-ready as well.
"They would then be ready to contribute to our economy, because they will have a better perspective of what's happening out there. And then they can (come) back to work with our companies and (help) our companies grow our external wing for us as well."
The Young Talent Programme, for example, is targeted at students from universities and polytechnics. This involves overseas attachments to expose students to markets abroad, as well as training them with the necessary skill sets.
The take-up rate for this programme has increased in the past two years, from 500 overseas interns in 2013 to 900 in 2015.
Under an agreement with the three local universities, IE Singapore and the universities co-fund up to 60 per cent of living expenses under an award for students. Over the last three years, around 1,800 university students have benefited.
This year, IE Singapore intends to partner SIM University (UniSIM) and Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs) to help students there participate in this programme as well.
The trade agency is also helping professionals, managers and executives gain overseas experience. It is supporting companies on manpower strategies and partnering them to prepare PMEs for international careers through market attachments and customised overseas immersion programmes.
Such support includes funding the companies to send their employees on such programmes, and working with trade agencies and chambers on more in-depth overseas market workshops to help PMEs understand local market conditions and networks.
Overseas immersion programmes typically last between five and nine days, and allow PMEs to gain market knowledge, insights and local networks from local experts.
The Government launched the SkillsFuture Study Awards for Internationalisation in October last year, to help develop leaders and improve current skillsets. It is intended to support individuals as they take up programmes to upskill their international management competencies. One example is the Stanford-NUS Executive Programme in International Management.
These study awards are valued at S$5,000 and 170 awards are expected to be given out between 2015 and 2016. Forty-nine awardees have been given the awards since November last year.
IE Singapore said 2,000 students and 525 middle and senior executives on the various programmes have benefited.
Going forward, it is targeting 5,000 young talents and 2,500 executives to be developed for global roles over the next five years.
Meanwhile, Astoria Solutions, a software company in the oil and gas sector, said it faces some challenges when sending locals to overseas markets.
Mr Dominic Loke, the company's CEO, said: "When people go out of Singapore, one of the biggest challenges would be cultural. Not just in the way people do things or their culture (being) different from ours, but also in terms of the way things work.
"Things are normally less efficient - like corruption, which you would not see in Singapore, you will see overseas, how do you deal with it? Things do not move as fast, or (are not) as transparent in Singapore ... Also in terms of life stages, some are more suitable to go and some are not. For example, people with families will have more concerns."
Mr Loke added that it is also important to be adaptable and able to understand the culture of overseas markets.
He noted: "In India, relationships are very important. You need to have an emotional bond with your counterpart. He must feel it too. And you will be very successful. And if you just take things very officially, like we are prone to doing in Singapore, then you will find that the going will be quite hard. And sometimes what you take to be an answer for yes, is actually a no."
Astoria Solutions has a staff strength of about 50 people in Singapore, of which around four have been exposed to overseas operations. The company is keen to send more abroad.
One of Astoria's employees has visited India as part of an immersion trip. The company will begin commercial activities in the country later this year.