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The full story: Singapore’s new advisory on HR practices in banks

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The tripartite partners in Singapore’s banking industry have launched an advisory on good HR practices for banks – focusing building a Singapore core, and reskilling, redeployment and retrenchment.

Developed jointly by Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), it is one of the initiatives under the jobs and skills agenda of the financial services industry transformation map (ITM).

Essentially, the advisory calls on banks to:

  • Proactively assess the likely impact of technological changes on their workforce,
  • Work with the MAS, Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF), and Workforce Singapore (WSG) to reskill and redeploy their professionals through professional conversion programmes (PCPs),
  • Adopt inclusive hiring practices which focus on the skills required to perform the job rather than set a strict minimum number of years of experience,
  • Conduct any retrenchment exercise responsibly and work with tripartite partners to support affected employees.

Full text: Tripartite advisory on human capital practices for banking

Building a Singaporean core

Aim: Develop a talent pool comprising a strong Singaporean core, as well as foreign professionals who bring in global/regional skills and expertise that complement the local talent pool.

Suggested practices

1. Initiatives to build a pipeline of Singaporeans across entry, mid-career and leadership levels:

  • Partnering institutions of higher learning to develop job-ready graduates for entry-level positions
  • Developing comprehensive graduate programmes to train entry-level employees
  • Supporting mid-career professionals’ and potential leaders’ through MAS’ SkillsFuture programmes, on specialised training, international posting and leadership development.

2. Banks should consider putting in place policies and processes to:

  • Promote diversity in their workforce to avoid nationality concentration
  • Facilitate management oversight of the hiring of foreign professionals, possibly by having: a senior management member (independent of the hiring department) sign off the hiring of foreigners at the junior level; or a senior management committee regularly review the profile of new hires, including foreign professionals.
  • Foster the transfer of skills and competencies from foreign professionals to local employees, where foreign professionals are hired to address existing skills gaps.

3. Banks’ job ads and selection criteria should mainly relate to skills, competencies and expertise required to perform the job, rather than setting a minimum number of years of relevant experience. Where the number of years of experience is useful, banks should consider indicating the number of years as a preference, rather than as a requirement.

4. To strengthen the capabilities of their HR professionals to better support business and workforce transformation, banks should invest in continuous T&D of their HR professionals, including providing opportunities for exposure to global and regional HR operations.

Reskilling, redeployment and retrenchment

Aims: Where banks need to undergo restructuring or re-organisation efforts as a result of automation or digitisation, they should first reskill and redeploy their employees, supported by the government.

Where retrenchments are necessary, banks should conduct the exercise responsibly and offer support to affected employees, including outplacement assistance programmes. Where practical, early notification should be given to MAS, so that relevant agencies can work with the banks to provide support.

Suggested practices

1. Banks should plan ahead by one to three years, to assess the likely impact of technological changes on their workforce. They should aim to:

  • Size the pool of employees at risk in key evolving functions
  • Work with the IBF, MAS and WSG to map alternative career pathways and skills roadmaps, and reskill and redeploy their employees into job growth areas through PCPs
  • Support employees’ efforts in acquiring relevant new skills and getting their feedback in enhancing alternative career pathways and skills roadmaps

2. For at-risk employees, banks should consider engaging them early to:

  • Make them aware of the changes ahead and that their roles may become redundant
  • Encourage mindset change in favour of continuous learning and adapting to potential new roles
  • Offer them retraining and redeployment opportunities in job growth areas.

Banks should provide support to employees who will be retrenched, which can include:

  • Advance notification of one to two months to MAS for significant retrenchment
  • Consider working with IBF, NTUC, and e2i to offer relevant support to such employees
  • Work with MAS and partner agencies to facilitate the placement of these employees through Adapt and Grow programmes and career advisory services.

Speaking at the launch event, Indranee Rajah, senior minister of state for law and finance, said the advisory calls for all stakeholders – the banks, unions, employees, and government – to work together to transform the industry’s workforce to take on the jobs of the future. Jacqueline Loh, deputy MD, MAS, added: “Sound HR practices are critical to building the skills and competencies that are necessary for a versatile and resilient financial sector workforce with a strong Singapore core.”

“Working together with tripartite partners, we can better equip our people with the relevant skills and build capabilities for the future,” explained Piyush Gupta, chairman, ABS. Additionally, Terence Ho, divisional director, manpower planning and policy, MOM, spoke about the support available through Adapt and Grow and SkillsFuture progammes.

Patrick Tay, assistant secretary-general, NTUC, said, “The Labour Movement will continue to collaborate with the tripartite partners to nurture and develop our working people so they will benefit from better careers and development opportunities in a progressive work environment.”

Edwin Lye, group director, industrial relations and workplace partnerships, SNEF, said, “The financial sector will continue to be open to international talent and remain dynamic. The tripartite partners and relevant agencies are working together and facilitating banks’ efforts to upgrade, deepen skills and reskill their workers to operate in the new business environment.”

Photo / NTUC

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