A TIGHT link exists between talent attraction and the educational environment, one which was extensively explored during a roundtable discussion held by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Internal Auditors Singapore (IIAS) yesterday.
Ideas were generated on ways to increase Singapore's inbound talent, especially in the accountancy sector. The discussion was moderated by Tim Hird, managing director of Robert Half International Singapore, while participants consisted of professionals from various sectors.
'Create a more assimilating society for foreign talents,' said Stephen Tjoa, executive director of people, performance and culture at KPMG LLP. Despite possessing competent technical skills, many foreign talents lack proficient language skills, which ultimately hinders their integration into society, he noted.
Uantchern Loh, president of IIAS, highlighted the dearth of educators in Singapore to nurture both existing and inbound talent. He spoke of the need for practitioners and industry players to develop a sense of civic-mindedness by lending a hand in the education process.
Eugene Lam, director of the human resources growth market unit at IBM global business services, took his point further, saying that local education institutions also need to engage industry players in order to coordinate what is taught in school with the skill sets needed in the corporate world.
And while Singapore boasts stability, safety and a good infrastructure, it remains a stepping stone for many foreigners. 'Talents only come here for a brief time before going elsewhere, such as Hong Kong and Australia, where there are better remunerations,' said Jayantee Saha, principal researcher at SHRI Research Centre.
Many foreign talents eventually seek greener pastures elsewhere, especially in countries with 'more buzz', said Mr Lam. Hong Kong remains a prime destination for many, given its proximity to the China market and its bustling city life.
With its limited resources, Singapore should not try to be everything to everyone, said Darryl Wee, country head of ACCA Singapore. Instead, it should concentrate on being the 'gateway to Asia' and playing a complementary role as an educational hub. The duration of retention becomes less important than what the foreigners contribute while they are here, he added.