Human Resource Development Practices to Achieve Economic Growth: The Case of Singapore

Introduction

Human Resource Development (HRD) plays a very significant role in promoting political, social and economic development and growth of a country. Most countries both developed and developing relies in efficient and advanced human resource to advance in all aspects of development. Through HRD, performance, learning and the individual capabilities are improved. Further, with the globalization of firms, emphasis on the significance of HRD has been on the increase (Porter, 1990).

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As such, the government of Singapore has continued to lay emphasis on HRD as the foundation for the improvement of both quantitative and qualitative aspects of the nationalized firms as well as government operations through education, training, health and workforce market development (Ericksen & Dyer, 2005). The aim of this paper is to take Singapore HRD efforts as an excellent example in this field, which based on the success, economic growth has been achieved in the country.

The Singapore public sector perspective of HRD practices

The human resources development in Singapore is undertaken by the public sector initiatives. The underlying principle behind the initiative is that effective human resources are imperative for the achievement of full and sustainable growth. In other words, the goals of public organizations must be associated with the human resource development to achieve an effective and efficient allocation of resources (Osman-Gani, 2004).

Essentially, HRD stresses on the arrangements and systems that is capable of enhancing the organization’s personnel knowledge, capabilities as well as their approaches in production of quality services (Chew & Zhu, 2002). Consequently, the government of Singapore has laid emphasis on the importance of HRD in achieving quality output and enhanced performance. Based on such emphasis, the government is able to achieve advancements in workforce through technical training and career development.

The government’s strategies to attain efficient HRD practices

The government of Singapore has achieved significant accomplishments in human resource development over the last decades through the adoption of several strategies. The efforts by the government can be categorized in terms of benefits to both the public and private sector. Singapore depends entirely on its human resources (Osman-Gani, 2004). Therefore, the development of human capabilities is critical for both social and economic growth. As such, the government has put in place various strategies that ensure the success of developing human resources. The strategies range from putting in place technical training institutions and programs to establishing functional areas within the public service with an aim of developing and managing human resources within the public services.

The government efforts through Public Services Division (PSD)

The public sector human resources development in Singapore is undertaken through various programs ranging from the talent management to higher learning institutions training. The government believes that improving skills of the public personnel will benefit all sectors within the public services (Georgiadis & Pitelis, 2012). In Singapore, the Public Services Division (PSD) in PMs Office undertakes human resources developments for the public services. The success of HRD in Singapore has been attributed to the efforts and policies aimed at developing human resources. In fact, PSD have functional program areas that are geared towards developing the high performing workforce for the public services.

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The Capability Development (CD)

The aims of Capability Development (CD) within the PSD are to come up with strategies and framework that will enable the development of human resources. In addition, the department is tasked with optimizing the workforce performance in the public service. The objectives are attained through effective training and development framework for all the public servants. Moreover, the department is to come up with performance evaluation strategies that are critical in developing, harnessing and retaining talents.

Career Development and Management (CDM)

Career Development and Management (CDM) is another functional area within PSD that is critical in developing strategies for harnessing, supporting and retaining talent. Under the functional areas, the public officers develop their careers and perfect their management capabilities. The functional area also aims to promote practices such as flexible work arrangements that motivate public servants and significant in developing labor relations.

Public Services for the 21st century (PS21) development program

The other important effort by the government under the PSD is the establishment of the Public Services for the 21st century (PS21) development program. The PS21 functional area is to develop and promote innovativeness to drive changes in the public sector. The department is to develop the capabilities of the public services in accordance to the new changes experienced currently in the workforce (Brewster et al., 2005). In essence, the program aims to develop new skills and capabilities that are adaptive to the current challenges in the labor force. The program is the government effort through collaboration with various agencies, nations as well as institutions of higher learning to develop new skills, competencies and capabilities that are highly required in the current global workplaces.

The talent management program

Besides efforts by the government to develop human resources under the PSD programs, HRD progresses are also attained through various programs such as the talent management. Through collaborations with various agencies including PSD, the program aims to harness and develop talents in order to be adaptive to the current workforce challenges. In addition, the program aims to develop and secure the individual competencies as well as capabilities that generate sustainable value to various stakeholders (Yeo, 2012).

The major function of the agencies in charge of implementing the program is to come up with strategies, design various tools as well as framework that will ensure the delivery of objectives of the program. Essentially, talent management in Singapore is a collaborative effort by both private and public sectors.

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Education and statutory efforts

The Singaporean government has put a lot of emphasis on education and training to boost public sector initiatives. Under the Workforce Skills Qualifications System (WSQS), the government has taken all the initiatives to develop human resources through training and career development by formulating policies, offering funds for execution as well as putting up various institutions to attain the required goals. All sectors both private and public will rely on the trained personnel from the public training institutions. As such, the government ensured that training and education are geared towards the needs of the industry (Yeo, 2012).

In addition to training and education, the government has put in place statutory obligations to anchor its efforts in human resources development. Statutory obligations such as the Skills Development Levy (SDL) act as well as programs including ADVANTAGE to ensure appropriate development of human resources

The private sector perspective

Private firms in Singapore have exploiting human assets to achieve maximum efficiency and output in the production process by hiring proficient and trained human resource ((Rutherford et al., 2003). For instance, private companies in the electronic industry have harvested greater talents and skills in product development skills, technological applications, integrated circuit designs as well as supply chain management.

Incidentally, private sector in Singapore also put emphasis on the development of proficiencies, planning of careers, training of personnel as well as the overall organizational development, which are significant for the success of the firms (Chew & Zhu, 2002). The public-private sector partnerships in the development and use of human resources development have resulted in highly skilled personnel that contribute hugely in the success of private firms in Singapore.

Local companies

Singapore biomedical industries have benefitted greatly on the skills and technical competence developed in the country. Local companies such as the Veredus Laboratories and HealthSTATS have benefitted from the locally developed biotechnological skills to compete with the global companies. However, the local companies continued expansions as well as improvements of employees’ skills through in-company training are critical for their success. Besides the local companies in the biotechnology industry, studies indicate that most of the local companies are embracing national initiatives aimed at training employees to improve the efficiency and performance of personnel.

The local companies also continue to embrace medium technology products manufacturing thereby augmenting the skills of the companies’ personnel (Ericksen & Dyer, 2005). The local firms increase the workforce skills through the expansion of technical education and training. Moreover, the local companies are advancing the utilization of high technology and knowledge intensive manufacturing to build up homegrown research and development potential.

For instance, the medical technology companies have tapped innovative ideas from the private-public sector partnerships in research and development initiatives. The local companies have realized expansion of native research and development (R&D) and high expertise through increased research and development financing and physical infrastructure as well as commercialization.

Government associated companies

The government of Singapore has taken remarkable strides regarding the improvement of HRD through collaboration with several companies. Through such associations, ability-based, aspiration-based and efficiency-driven education system has led to increased innovation, creativity as well as research among the nation’s human resources. In addition, the close links between government and companies have increased efficient implementation of HRD policies. For instance, the government in consultation with the firms comes up with national initiatives aimed at developing technology and research (Low et al., 2001).

For instance, electronic manufacturing is the key driver of the Singapore economy. The government has collaborated with key players in the industry including companies such as the Seagate, Hoya, Hitachi Global and Flextronics among other to develop talents and capabilities to address the needs of the industry. The collaborative efforts of the government and the players in the industry have created institutions such as Nanyang Technological University (NTU) as well as IC Design Center for Excellence (ICDCE) to harness and develop talents to address the technological needs of the industry (Low et al., 2001).

Multinational corporations

The increasing number of multinational corporations in Singapore has had numerous implications on HRD. In fact, following the country’s success in developing competent and talented human resources in addition to other economic incentives, most of the multinational corporations opened up subsidiaries in Singapore. In essence, increased technological advancement and diminishing communiqué expenses as well as openness of Singapore to the global economy have augmented increasing operations of multinational firms in the country. The competitiveness of the global firms depends on the skills and knowledge of personnel (Bae & Lawler, 2008).

Most importantly, the international firms play critical roles in human resource development. For example, the global firms restructure the skills of personnel to conform to ever-changing expertise. In this regard, the firms differentiate quality of human systems as well as processes to gain competitive advantage. In reality, the skills and knowledge of the personnel are the ingredients of human systems’ quality in the operations of such firms.

Multinational corporation economic restructuring initiatives necessitate modifications in the development of human resource. For instance, global firms in Singapore including Broadcom Corporation are moving into medium technology manufacturing from labor-intensive manufacturing expertise to gain competitive edge over other players in the economy (Bae & Lawler, 2008). The implications of the technological alterations are that the education and training of human resources are modified to suit the changes at the inclusive and activity levels. Further, the cross-border-ventures of the Singapore firms such as Hitachi to other states in Africa, Europe and the US have enabled increased expertise of human resource to ensure efficiency in operations. The cross-border investments enable human resources to understand the political, social and cultural environment in which the businesses operate.

As indicated, electronic industry is one of the successful industries in Singapore and has attracted major world corporations including. Broadcom Corporation is one of the multinational companies operating in Singapore. The company has influenced organizational as well as work patterns regarding human resource development. Moreover, the firm has majorly focused on professional and executives in the training and development of human resources.

Further, changes in the industry have enabled the firm embark on the collaborative efforts with the government to develop new talents and capabilities. The changes in technology require work units that are highly skilled, reliable and capable of adapting to the new forms of business operations. Additionally, advanced technological alterations have led to flexible automation of operations, online quality control and decentralization as well as exploitation of multi-skilled human resource leading to increased performance of personnel.

References

Bae, J. S. & Lawler, J. J. (2008). Variations in human resource management in Asian countries: MNC home-country and host-country effects. The international Journal of Human Resource Management, 9(4): 653-723.

Brewster, C., Sparrow, P. & Harris, H. (2005). Towards a new model of globalizing HRM. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(6): 949-970.

Chew, I. & Zhu, W. (2002). Factors influencing Singapore managers’ career aspiration in international assignments. Career Development International, 7(2): 96-97.

Ericksen, J. & Dyer, L. (2005). Toward a strategic human resource management model of high reliability organization performance. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(6): 907-935.

Georgiadis, A. & Pitelis, C. N. (2012). Human resources and SME performance in services: empirical evidence from the Singapore. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(4): 808–25.

Low, L., Heng, T. M. & Wong, S. T (2001). Economics of education and manpower development issues & policies in Singapore. Singapore, McGraw Hill.

Porter, M. E. (1990). The competitive advantage of nations. London, Macmillan Press Ltd.

Rutherford, M. W., Buller, P. F. & Mcmullen, P. R. (2003). Human resource management problems over the life cycle of small to medium-sized firms. Human Resource Management, 42(4): 321–35.

Osman-Gani, A. M. (2004). Impact of Asian economic crisis on selected human resource management strategies: A study of Singapore-based companies. Journal of International business Studies, 116(41): 63-79.

Yeo, R. (2012). There can be no action with experience: Integrating action learning and experimental learning theories for HRD. Academy of Human Resource Development, 16(4): 27-41.

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