Interview 2


undefinedWith Singapore’s current tight labour market, there is a constant pressure on firms to attract and retain valuable talent. Understanding that human capital is key to organisation growth, Mr Rowland Kew, Managing Partner of CA Practice PAC, embarked on a journey to revamp his firm’s human resource infrastructure.

Previously, his firm faced a number of challenges such as being unable to assess the depth of knowledge acquired by staff after attending in-house training courses and in identifying competency gaps in staff skills. After learning about WDA’s Enterprise Training Support Scheme, he has since introduced a structured human resource framework that enabled his firm to better tailor training materials and programmes that led to savings in man-hours and better alignment of HR processes with HR objectives.

To find out more about how Mr Kew managed to unlock the power of human capital in bolstering his firm’s performance, please read on.

1. Hi Rowland, understand you are utilising the Enterprise Training Support (ETS) Scheme, jointly developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA). How did you hear about it?

We learnt about the ETS scheme in December 2013 at an OneSMP meeting where FP Consultants International was invited by ISCA to introduce the scheme. 

2. What were some pertinent areas in your firm's HR infrastructure you've identified that needed a productivity boost?

We have been providing in-house training to our staff over the years but were unable to assess the depth of knowledge acquired by our staff and were unsure how to evaluate if they have applied the knowledge learnt at work. Additionally, our annual staff appraisals were also unable to help us determine what the competency gaps were or our staff’s training needs. 

As a professional service firm, we understand that human capital is a key driving force of an organisation and there is a need to improve our HR infrastructure. When FP Consultants presented on ETS, I was thrilled because it fitted exactly into my envisioned plan for an effective HR infrastructure for a practice.

3. Why did you choose the ETS scheme?

I chose the ETS scheme for the following reasons:

  1. The ETS Training Grant is the only grant that enables our practice to defray training costs for non-WSQ courses. We can claim training subsidy (of up to $15 per hour) when we conduct technical courses like audit, tax and insolvency and other non-WSQ soft skills courses regardless of whether they are conducted by external training providers, as in-house workshops or in-house on-the-job (OJT) training.  

  2. Moreover, FP Consultants even developed a cloud-based training plan management solution to lighten our administrative burden in the preparation of monthly and quarterly reports.  

  3. The ETS Curriculum Contextualisation and Alignment Grant is the only grant that subsidises our costs to engage consultants to perform an analysis of task-based training needs on audit programmes. The Grant covers the development of OJT blueprints which help to define, in respect of the audit programme, the main tasks (i.e. what to do), task elements (i.e. how to do), task performance standards, skills and knowledge required to carry out the tasks, and training guidelines to acquire the knowledge and skills.

The OJT blueprints also serve several purposes:

4.1. How has leveraging the ETS scheme helped to improve your firm’s HR management system and staff productivity levels?

We are still in the early implementation stages of the HR infrastructure and are monitoring its progress.  Nevertheless, I’ll share some examples of the new systems and practices that are in place.

  1. Integrated Framework: FP Consultants’ integrated Singapore Qualification Programme (Singapore QP) & Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) competency framework has been adopted as our competency-based HR development (HRD) structure. We can now synchronise our HR objectives with competencies and performance goals across various HR processes. This includes recruitment, learning and development, performance management, rewards and career management.

  2. HR Planning (Process A): FP Consultants has summarised and incorporated key Singapore Standard on Quality Control (SSQC1) HR indicators monitored by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) into our HRD Strategy Map. Going forward, these indicators will be readily available to ACRA in our future practice monitoring programme review.

  3. Learning & Assessment: By organising our e-courseware contents to include pre-workshop reading materials and a MCQ online test, we are able to analyse the MCQ test results to identify areas that require reinforcement in the workshop. With greater focus on key learning areas, our training efficiency and effectiveness have improved despite shortened training hours. Table 1 will illustrate some of these benefits. 

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4.2. Has your firm been able to better attract and retain talent?

Drawing upon feedback from our HRD post launch workshop, we have found that, 

Our staff seem to be interested in the in-house training programmes and are looking forward to future training. I am hopeful that our staff will see that the firm is keen to invest in developing their knowledge and skills and be encouraged to grow their careers with our company. 

5. Would you consider joining and encouraging other SMPs to sign up for other ISCA initiatives to boost their productivity?

We would encourage SMPs to tap into ISCA initiatives that promote awareness of productivity schemes. These include the ETS scheme and the Collaborative Industry Projects (CIP) Process Manual for SSQC 1 Implementation to boost productivity and most importantly, improve staff retention.

Thank you Rowland for taking the time to share your insights with us!