15 January 2013
Hiring beyond traditional sources
Wong Wei Han

ASME in early talks to help link businesses with alternative workforce pool

SINGAPORE - The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) is exploring several initiatives to help SMEs access alternative workforce sources or relocate to Malaysia amid a consensus among members that manpower costs would rise this year. 

SMEs are calling on the Government to give more incentives in Budget 2013 to help recruit locals or expand overseas, according to the ASME's survey report, SME Business Sentiment & Budget 2013 Wish List, released yesterday. 

Findings from the survey, which polled 213 SMEs last month, show that 88.4 per cent of respondents expect manpower to be the main cause of cost increases this year and to be their greatest worry. As a result, "68.8 per cent of SMEs are hoping that Budget 2013 would have more incentives to help SMEs recruit local staff and talents", said ASME President Chan Chong Beng. 

ASME is now in early discussions to develop an initiative to link businesses with alternative workforce sources, including ex-offenders, undischarged bankrupts, back-to-work mothers and problem youths. 

The ASME survey also revealed concerns over expansion and productivity. With some 45.3 per cent of SMEs planning to expand overseas in the next six months, ASME aims to help them relocate to the Iskandar Development Region in Malaysia or set up additional operations there. 

ASME is considering setting up a One-Stop Centre in Iskandar to address interests in the region. "With a One-Stop Centre, ASME will source for properties … The centre also seeks to provide SMEs with procedures to obtain business licences, manpower, customs clearance," said Mr Chan.

Meanwhile, 53.6 per cent of SMEs would like to see more initiatives to increase productivity for Budget 2013. 

"Many SMEs have also voiced for the Productivity Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme to extend to beyond 2015," said ASME, while proposing to increase the PIC payout from the current 60 per cent to 80 per cent for up to S$200,000, instead of the current S$100,000 of qualifying expenditure.

- Source: TODAY