What is the Singapore Core?

It continues to be a “buzz word” in the media, a fuzzy ideal that visionaries want where a strong Singapore core will anchor the economy and help us ride out economic uncertainties and cyclical downturns. But behind all the spiel and idealism, the success of a strong Singapore core is not immediately or quantitatively measurable and is a hard concept to define.

Can you put a number TO it?

While this topic might be slightly contentious, there is no denying that a strong Singapore core definitely does need a core group of capable and future-ready local workers that would be able to adapt to the fast-moving landscape. A quick snap poll saw that when participants were asked what percentage of foreign employees in a company did they feel would dilute the Singapore core, half of respondents chose between “30 to 40% of foreign employees” as the threshold. This indicates that there is still a preference for a predominantly local workforce.



But beyond the numbers, what is actually more important is the mindset of employers. First and foremost, employers must always ensure that local employees are given fair and equal opportunities to rise up the ranks in an organization compared to foreign employees. This ensures that locals can compete on a level playing field.  This has also been echoed by NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing:

“So what does it mean to develop a real Singapore Core? It means giving all Singaporeans a best shot at rising up the hierarchy. We are not asking for affirmative action that just because we’re Singaporeans – therefore we will get ahead compared to the rest. 

We are asking for a fair chance.”

That said, it is also important that employers make the commitment to groom local talent to eventually take up leadership positions within the organization. Employers need to realise their vital role in helping to strengthen the Singapore core and convey that perception organization-wide from a top-down approach. It could be it through initiatives that recognize the contributions of local employees or giving locals with leadership potential adequate training to be able to take on mid to high level positions within the organization in due time.

Employees – do your part!

While employers are important in setting the agenda in strengthening the Singapore Core, employees have a part to play too! The onus is on you as a worker to continually upgrade your skillsets so you remain relevant, add value to your employers and be future ready. A willingness to learn and positive attitude will likely take you a long way! ;)

When these two pieces of the puzzle come together, we can look forward to a strong Singapore Core and continued economic sustainability.

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