28 March 2018

On 14 March 2018, the Tripartite Advisory on Human Capital Practices for Banking (“Advisory”), jointly developed by The Association of Banks in Singapore (“ABS”), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”), the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”), the National Trades Union Congress (“NTUC”) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (“SNEF”), was released. The Advisory sets out good practices for banks in hiring, reskilling, redeployment and retrenchment. The aim is to develop a deep and diverse talent pool of local and foreign professionals which contributes to the strong and sustainable growth of the banking industry in Singapore. It is one of the initiatives under the jobs and skills agenda of the Financial Services Industry Transformation Map (ITM).

Speaking at the launch event, Ms 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.

The Advisory comprises two key focus areas: (a) building a Singaporean Core, and (b) reskilling, redeployment and retrenchment.

Building a Singaporean Core

The desired outcome is the development of a deep talent pool which comprises both a strong Singapore Core, as well as foreign professionals who bring in global/regional skills and expertise that complement the local talent pool.

To this end, the Advisory calls on banks to consider initiatives to build a pipeline of Singaporeans across entry, mid-career and leadership levels. These initiatives could include:

  • partnering institutions of higher learning to develop job-ready graduates for entry-level positions;
  • developing comprehensive graduate programmes to train entry-level employees; and
  • supporting mid-career professionals’ and potential leaders’ career development through MAS’ SkillsFuture programmes.

 As banks tap on foreign professionals to augment the local talent pool, banks should consider putting in place policies and processes, including those to:

  • promote diversity in their workforce to avoid nationality concentration;
  • facilitate management oversight of the hiring of foreign professionals; and
  • foster the transfer of skills and competencies from foreign professionals to local employees, where foreign professionals are hired to address existing skills gaps.

Reskilling, redeployment and retrenchment

The desired outcomes are to equip employees with new skills to enable them to adapt to the evolving needs of the banking industry and to be redeployed as a first resort in the event of a restructuring or re-organisation. Where retrenchments are necessary, banks should conduct such exercises responsibly and offer support to affected employees.

To this end, banks should plan ahead with a time frame of one to three years to assess the likely impact of technological changes on their workforce. Employees at risk should be engaged early to make them aware of the changes ahead and that their roles may become redundant, encourage mind-set change in favour of continuous learning and adapting to potential new roles, and offer them retraining and redeployment opportunities in job growth areas.

Further, the Advisory provides suggestions on how banks can provide support to employees who will be retrenched. These include providing advance notice and working with agencies to facilitate the placement of these employees.

Practical impact

Banks are expected to put in place policies and processes, taking into account the suggested practices, to achieve the desired outcomes stated in the Advisory.

Banks should put in place programmes to develop strong local talent at all levels, and adopt strong human resource practices even as they hire foreign professionals to meet their business needs.

Banks should systematically plan ahead to equip their workforce with digital and data skills to support changes in business models and processes, encourage employees to be proactive in acquiring new skills for redeployment in new roles, as well as provide support for employees who will be retrenched.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the ABS website www.abs.org.sg:

The speech by Ms Indranee Rajah at the launch of the Advisory is available on the MAS website www.mas.gov.sg, or by clicking here.


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