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INTERNATIONAL Enterprise Singapore unveiled two initiatives on Friday to build a bigger local talent pool to help Singapore firms expand in South-east Asia and India.
The trade promotion agency, which is also pushing homegrown enterprises to have a bigger presence abroad, launched the IE Singapore Go SEA Award and inked three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and three local universities at an Asean-India business forum hosted by IE Singapore.
The three are Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University.
The MOUs will let IE Singapore and the three universities tap CII's network of more than 8,000 member firms to help undergraduates here access internship opportunities at the firms in India.
"This will help build our pipeline of India-ready talent that can support companies as they expand in this important market," said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran, the forum's guest of honour.
IE Singapore will support the attachments under its existing Young Talent Programme's (YTP's) co-funding schemes. The Go SEA Award, also aimed at local undergraduates, "is a recruitment platform to help bridge regional talent recruitment needs of Singapore companies and the career aspirations of young Singaporeans", according to IE Singapore chief executive officer Lee Ark Boon, who also spoke at the half-day forum held at Marina Bay Sand Convention Centre.
The Go SEA Award is targeting 30 students in the pilot year, with each matched student to be granted S$12,000 to cover living and travel expenses as well as a company stipend for an internship stint of at least 12 weeks in South-east Asia. Those who excel could receive job offers from the participating companies.
OCBC Bank, Pico Art International and Stamford Tyres are among the participating companies. According to IE Singapore, the new talent initiatives unveiled on Friday will build on the agency's existing efforts to prepare Singaporeans for internationalisation via programmes such as the YTP for students and SkillsFuture Study Award for International Business for professionals, managers, executives and technicians.
The recently released Committee on the Future Economy report has underscored the importance of developing deeper links in regional markets - and South-east Asia, with Vietnam and Myanmar taking the lead, is the top region of interest among Singapore firms, according to an IE Singapore survey. Many of these firms are also looking to India to grow their businesses.
"Together, both markets represent a quarter of the world's population (two billion) and a combined nominal GDP of US$4.5 trillion," Mr Iswaran noted.
Both markets are expanding strongly, driven by growing consumption and infrastructure development.
But Mr Lee indicated that to grow their footprint abroad, Singapore firms must acquire suitable talent that can thrive in foreign environments. The IE survey shows that one of the top challenges for firms here is "the lack of talent with the global experience and specific skill sets, as well as lack of talent willing to go overseas".
Mr Lee said that the new talent initiatives, which will focus on the key growth regions of South-east Asia and India, "will drive the growth of domestic firms and create quality jobs for a new global breed of Singaporeans".