Relocation Key to Developing Global Leaders in Singapore
Posted by: Michelle Low, Director of Strategic Business Solutions, APAC
Singapore is facing one of the biggest challenges in its young life as a nation (Singapore officially gained independence in 1965) – how to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world. With unemployment rising to its highest level since 2009, many believe that a fundamental shift in the economy is occurring which could lead to reduced demand for some vocations and workplace skills. The problem: as Singapore becomes more of a regional, and even global, hub for multinational companies, organizations need local leaders who not only have the necessary job skills, but, perhaps more importantly, have international assignment experience and a global outlook. Yet Singaporeans are, for the most part, lacking that experience.
The Singapore government has placed this issue at the top of its agenda and has made resources available to help the unemployed learn new skills. But, in the longer term, it still has to answer some key fundamental questions for the country as a whole – what skills and experiences are required for the country’s future prosperity? One of the key initiatives to support this was unveiled in Singapore’s 2016 Budget. The Double Tax Deduction for Internationalisation (DTDi) scheme has been implemented to encourage Singapore companies to expand overseas.
Local Leaders with Global Experience
For a number of years it has been recognised that many Singaporeans lack living and working experience in other countries. Two years ago, speaking at the National Trade Union Congress’ Future Leaders Summit, Singapore Labour Chief Chan Chun Sing urged young Singaporeans to venture overseas for work experience.
Reluctance to Relocate?
The reasons Singaporeans are reluctant to take on overseas assignments are well documented – fear of the unknown, education options for children, lack of spousal assistance for dual income career couples, care for aged parents, etc.
Generally, Singaporean and Asian companies lag behind their western counterparts in making provision in this area. Some of these concerns can be addressed with a comprehensive relocation policy and program, like those that many western multinational companies have in place. Indeed, Cartus has helped many of these companies build their global mobility strategies and keep them current.
The situation is not all bleak though for Singapore. The National Population and Talent Division tracks the number of Singaporeans living abroad and has reported a positive trend. In 2004, there were just 157,800 Singaporeans abroad. This number rose to 213,400 a year ago.
For a small nation that made its mark on the world stage in the early years of independence, Singapore is now at a crossroads to ensure that it continues to establish its relevance in a future global economy.
Postive steps have been made, but what can Singaporean companies do to promote and encourage relocation?
- Companies should offer flexible approaches to assignment policies that cater to each assignee and their family situation – one size doesn't fit all.
- For those going on their first overseas assigment, instead of using a lump sum program, the company should consider a softer landing approach into the host country by providing assistance on home finding, school search, settling in, and household goods services.
- Consider providing spousal support as a standard in your policy, especially for dual-income career couples who are very common in Singapore.
- Utilise available government networks, programs, and funding to venture overseas.
- Avoid a potential “brain drain” by having a career mapping talent management plan from the beginning with employees identified as future leaders for the organization.
- Utilise the resources available to help Singaporeans stay in touch and ease their adjustment going on a relocation, as well as returning home. Agencies such as https://www.overseassingaporean.sg/ can be very helpful.
Cartus helps organisations design and manage international assignment programs through end-to-end relocation solutions such as policy benchmarking, policy design, and on-the-ground destination support such as home finding, settling in, cultural training, candidate assessment, spousal assistance, and visa and immigration services.