SINGAPORE - Employers with a good track record in developing local staff and offering work practices such as flexible hours, will be given incentives from next year under a new programme announced by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Wednesday (Nov 16).

They will get access to a dedicated hotline and priority processing for transactions with the Manpower Ministry (MOM), such as work pass applications, as well as a one-stop advisory service to link them to grants and schemes they can use for staff development, provided by the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep).

The new Human Capital Partnership Programme, put together by Tafep, MOM, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), aims to encourage companies to develop their Singaporean workers.

Speaking at Tafep's 10th anniversary celebration at Resorts World Sentosa, Mr Lim said: We need to spread the culture and adoption of not just legal and fair employment practices but progressive and best practices to more workplaces in Singapore."

The programme will be rolled out by early next year, said Mr Lim adding that the aim is to attract 100 companies within six months.

Companies that come onboard must commit to three priorities: building a stronger Singaporean core by investing in employees of all ages and at all levels; selecting foreign employees that complement local workers and not substitute them; and proactively transferring expertise from foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians to locals.

Mr Lim said employers need to focus on nurturing the talent they have because growth will have to be done with a leaner and older workforce from now on.

"Instead of looking at workers as 'human resources' which may be consumed and depreciate over time, we should treasure and keep investing in them as our precious 'human capital'," he added addressing about 500 guests including employers, staff and Tafep's partners.

He also thanked Tafep and its staff for their passion, commitment and work over the past 10 years, and encouraged the organisation to reinvent itself to remain relevant to the changing employment landscape.

The anniversary event was attended by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob and former SNEF vice-president Bob Tan, both of whom were Tafep's founding co-chairmen.