In recent years, more surveys have shown that youths in Asia, including Singapore, show a marked preference for working in MNCs compared to local companies. It’s not hard to see where the allure lies, as millennials and Gen Z-ers are more attracted to a vibrant workplace culture. MNCs often offer flexibility and an interactive workplace culture that prides itself on creative collaboration. In addition, there tends to be less hierarchy in MNCs and young Singaporeans prefer a workplace culture that values their views and ideas. Young PMEs usually prefer working in an MNC as it gives them more opportunities to chart out their career paths and chase after their goals.
Attracting MNCs to create good jobs and skills transfer
This strategy of having MNCs set up offices in Singapore did not happen by accident. In the 1970s, Singapore’s economy grew exponentially due to globalisation and industrialisation. More foreign investments came in and our GDP grew. Singapore realised that it would be important to quickly train Singaporeans to fill these jobs. Hence, they paid MNCs to train Singaporeans in IT and electronics to meet with the increased demands of those sectors.
Now, Singapore continues to attract big-name foreign companies to set up shop here. We now have Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, to name a few. These companies are some of the best employers in Singapore. In particular, Google even has a Skills Ignition SG training programme that trains Singaporeans and PRs in Digital Marketing, Cloud Technology and even Data Engineering. That’s just one of the few examples of how MNCs provide skills transfer and benefits Singaporeans.
Dealing with errant companies and protecting the Singaporean core
At the same time, the Government is cognizant that some errant companies do not have fair HR practices. To ensure that Singaporeans will be fairly considered for all jobs, more attention and regulation Such cases need attention and regulation to ensure that Singaporeans will be fairly considered for all jobs.
As a result, a tighter enforcement of the Fair Consideration Framework is needed to protect our Singaporean core. In the recent Parliament, Labour MP Patrick Tay talked about the need to impose stiffer penalties on companies with discriminatory hiring practices. He said regulation “will send a clear message against workplace discrimination and eradicate unfair hiring practices”.
Mr Tay also suggested to level the playing field for local PMEs by enhancing the EP application review process. He proposed to move beyond looking at the individual applicant’s educational qualification and salary.
Lastly, there is a need to ensure structured and mandatory skills transfer from foreign PMEs to local PMEs. An example would be what Google is currently doing. And doing so ensures that these MNCs benefit Singapore and its people by sharing their skills and capabilities.