“We want to make top talent everywhere sit up, pay attention and think seriously about coming to Singapore,” announced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally 2022.
This is part of the nation’s strategy to build a “world-class talent pool”, he said. Competition is stiff in today’s search for talents, a challenge that PM Lee highlighted during his speech with examples from across the world. Germany, for instance, allows skilled foreign professionals to live in the country without first getting a job. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has introduced a special visa for graduates from top universities outside the Kingdom.
“Singapore cannot afford to be creamed off, or left behind,” he added. Without many natural resources to offer, Singapore’s position as an economic powerhouse was built upon the successes of its people. This includes a highly skilled workforce, both local and foreign.
Wrote Associate Professor in Practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Terence Ho, “Singapore must continue to welcome global talent if it is to remain a successful global city that creates good opportunities for its people.”
Ho recognised that openness to global talent is vital for the small island nation to stay attractive to businesses and foreign investments, and that the nation will always face shortfalls in manpower that needs to be plugged. The tech sector, for instance, continues to face a talent shortfall, according to The Straits Times.
How Singapore attracts foreign talents
Soon after the National Day Rally 2022, Singapore launched the Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass, a five-year visa which will allow holders to work for numerous companies at a time and grants their spouses eligibility to work here. The visa will be applicable to those earning at least S$30,000 a month or with outstanding achievements in areas of science and technology, arts and culture, research and academia, or sports, CNA reported.
To attract tech talents in particular, Singapore has also introduced the ONE Pass. This is a five-year employment pass given to skilled professionals with highly specialised skills currently lacking in the local workforce.
Additionally, the Ministry of Manpower will be reducing the processing time for EPs from an average of three weeks, to just 10 days.
What does this mean for businesses?
For businesses, the prospective pool of talents they can recruit from has just expanded. Beyond bringing to the table valuable skills that may be in short supply locally, foreign talents also come with other softer skill sets that are valuable in the workforce.
They will bring with them unique perspectives and cultures, adding diversityto the make-up of your business. This isn’t diversity for diversity’s sake either, individuals of differing backgrounds can introduce a unique perspective to team discussions and value-add to the innovation process with new ideas a monocultural workforce might not think of.
Businesses looking to expand beyond local markets will also benefit from these foreign talents if these individuals come from the target expansion markets. They bring with them cultural competencies, language skills and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in these new markets, and will be able to guide the local workforce in best practices to employ.
How businesses can best integrate foreign talents
Nevertheless, these benefits are for naught if businesses are unable to maximise the potential of foreign talents and integrate them into the workforce. Companies looking to hire foreign talents can heed these three tips to best help them feel included and excel in the workforce:
1. Linking them up with a buddy or mentor. Moving to a new country and starting work in a completely foreign environment can be daunting. Having a dedicated individual that can look out for them and show them the ropes can go a long way in helping new hires feel comfortable and integrate into the workplace.
2. Assimilation beyond the workplace. Foreign talents have uprooted their entire lives to work in a new country. Make them feel at home by introducing them to the local culture and organising bonding activities with the team outside of work. This can also facilitate cultural sharing between the local workers and foreign-born ones - allowing for greater understanding and collaboration in the long run.
3. Feedback and communication is key. Foreign talents may be accustomed to different working styles, which can easily breed discontent or misunderstandings if not adequately addressed. It’s crucial to ensure two-way communication so that everyone is on the same page, and any potential misunderstandings or issues are flagged early.
With the increasing ease of hiring foreign talents, business owners will find that the world is truly their oyster when it comes to hiring. Nevertheless, they still need to take adequate steps to ensure that these talents are integrated into the workforce and thrive.