Tuesday 21 May 2013

Max Talent programme for PMEs & SMEs

Scheme aims to match more local talent with SMEs
By Rachel Scully, The Straits Times, 20 May 2013

FOR many young Singaporean job seekers, working at a multinational corporation (MNC) typically ranks at the top of their career choices.

But a programme launched by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency is aiming to change that, by matching local talent with industries here.

The Max Talent programme, which is heavily subsidised, has placed more than 400 Singaporean professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) with SMEs since its launch in April last year, and hopes to help 600 more by the middle of next year.

It is targeting PMEs working in MNCs as well as PMEs who have been retrenched, said ASME president Chan Chong Beng.

"There is a need to change the mindset of locals about joining the SME sector as a career option, and that of SMEs to upgrade themselves so that they can attract and retain local talent," he said.

Part of the programme includes a three-day workshop, which equips PMEs with skills and knowledge about the working culture of SMEs.

It aims to ease the transition for people working in MNCs when they move to smaller organisations.

"Having a centralised job- matching and training service reduces the search costs for PMEs and SMEs," said UOB economist Francis Tan. He added that the move makes sense as Singapore restructures its economy.

Last year, among the 11,010 workers who lost their jobs, close to 6,000 of them were PMEs and those having technical skills.

SME bosses said the programme would help ease the talent shortage among SMEs.

Mr Sam Yeo, office manager at Jack Metal Industries, said the programme is an excellent way to get talent into local industries.

"Even when I offered to pay 20 per cent more salary, I was unable to get locals to join the firm," said Mr Yeo, who recently put a new hire through Max Talent.

But bosses such as Mr Eric Tan of GSK Global Group said they would rather not hire PMEs who had worked in large corporations.

He said that some PMEs may have a very defensive attitude when problems crop up and like to play politics.

Mr Tan sent three new staff to join Max Talent in the past year to help them integrate with his SME.

Employees who were placed under the programme relish the challenge. Ms Suneetha Prabhakaran, one of the PMEs placed after more than 20 years working in MNCs, jumped at the opportunity to work at a start-up in 2011.

She joined the design arm of Deliciae Hospitality Management, an SME in the food and beverage sector, as an office manager.

Ms Prabhakaran, 50, had to take a pay cut of 16 per cent, lose a few days of annual leave, and did not get medical benefits or a 13th month bonus during her first year with the SME.

However, the opportunity to wear different hats, apply what she had learnt and make a difference in the SME made her stay on.

Last month, her employer sent her for the Max Talent programme.

"The workshop explained the rationale behind various management functions and tools - such as staff evaluation - which helped me formulate improvement strategies that I could take back to my company," she said.

When asked if she has been able to enjoy better work-life balance, the mother of one said a benefit is that she feels less stressed even though she has more to do.

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