With Singapore’s total workforce growth projected to slow going forward, SMEs, which form the majority source of employment, must learn to overcome the manpower challenges. To help progressive SMEs transform and grow in this new manpower-lean business environment, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) recently announced the Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme, which will give selected businesses short-term help in hiring and retaining foreign workers by increasing flexibility on their foreign worker quota and ratios.

In return, these SMEs must show that they are committed to become more manpower-lean, future-ready, and to build a strong Singaporean core while developing better quality workers, so that they can set examples for the rest of the SME sector and accelerate the transformation across the industry.

The LED Scheme will be piloted for two years, starting from 1 October 2015. Companies wishing to be part of the LED Scheme must apply and submit proposals detailing plans to improve productivity and innovation. According to MOM, proposals that are endorsed by relevant industry association or union will be given priority.

In view of this, SMF recognised the need for SMEs to be able to develop a feasible proposal that will be able to help jump-start their transformation journey. The Federation acted swiftly in the wake of the announcement on LED Scheme, and organised a CEO Dialogue session on 23 September 2015 to discuss how companies can align their businesses towards MOM’s objectives, as well as how they can leverage on SMF’s services to develop a LED-suitable proposal.

The session was attended by more than 80 participants who are chief executives, directors and managers from SMEs across industries. Representatives from government agencies were also present to hear the voice of the industry.

The dialogue featured a series of insightful presentations, each on a requirement of the LED Scheme: future ready, lean manpower, strong Singaporean core, quality foreign workers. The dialogue started with Dr Michael Teng, SMF Assistant Secretary-General, who introduced to the participants the various programmes SMF has in place to support companies in their application of the LED Scheme.

Dr Michael Teng gave an interesting and informative presentation

In the second half of the dialogue, there was an interactive discussion whereby participants were grouped into roundtable discussions to exchange their views on their current company situation with respect to the four key LED requirements.

Participants actively sharing their views and opinions

Each group had a facilitator to moderate the flow of the discussion

Following the roundtable discussion, each group presented their views to the rest of the participants

A panel Q&A to successfully wrap up the dialogue

It was a truly rewarding and insightful experience, participants reflected at the end of the dialogue session. Said one participant, Ms Verena Thomas from Cassiopea.com.sg Pte Ltd: “I have learned a lot from this dialogue, such as how LED Scheme can assist our company regarding staffing and grants. With SMF’s advice and business programmes, I hope we will be able to fulfill what we would like to achieve.”

“I came to this dialogue as I wanted to see what the current market situation is, and to get a better understanding on the government’s direction as well as the kind of help SMEs are getting. Our company is in the construction sector, which is heavily impacted by the foreign levies. When I heard about the LED Scheme, I would like to know how we can benefit from this. Some of the presentations today, such as how to find young talents, is very relevant to us,” said Mr Kuah Rulin from Hock Star Engineering.

How can SMF help in your LED Scheme Application?

With a comprehensive range of programmes, SMF can assist the company to develop the right proposal for LED Scheme: