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Talent retention, high salary expectations are challenges, say British firms in S’pore

SINGAPORE - Retaining talent, particularly among younger employees, is proving challenging for British companies in Singapore, according to a survey of such companies here.

Salary expectations were identified as the top reason for employees leaving their companies this year, said the British Chamber of Commerce Singapore (BritCham), based on its latest business sentiment survey involving 50 member firms ranging from small and medium-sized enterprises to multinational companies.

A total of 85 per cent of respondents said they have been actively recruiting in the past six months but are finding it difficult to get suitable people to fill the positions due to high salary expectations, a competitive market for local talent and a perceived lack of requisite technical skills and expertise.

BritCham noted that similar challenges around cost and the talent pool were also highlighted in the Singapore Business Federation’s National Business Survey this year, and that these issues are not unique to foreign-owned businesses.

Despite the challenges, over 75 per cent of respondents confirmed their long-term confidence in Singapore as a business hub. However, satisfaction with the current business climate in Singapore was divided, with a near 50-50 result.

The survey also found that interest in the Asean region remains a priority for the majority of members. Singaporean citizens and permanent residents form an average of 68 per cent of the people employed by the respondents, it added.

There is also strong awareness of the Complementarity Assessment Framework (Compass) for employment passes, with over 70 per cent of respondents saying they knew of it.

Compass is a new points-based framework for new employment pass applications which was implemented earlier this month.

A total of 54 per cent of respondents agreed that Compass will help ensure a high-quality and diverse foreign workforce that complements the local workforce.

BritCham is an independent not-for-profit organisation supporting approximately 3,500 members from 300 organisations. Approximately two-thirds of BritCham members are British nationals or those employed by an organisation headquartered in the UK.

Mr David Kelly, executive director at BritCham, said: “With around 80 per cent of companies reaffirming their confidence in Singapore as a business hub, we will continue to support businesses who are looking to expand into Singapore and across the Asean region.”