Why the obsession for FTs?
Many CEOs are chirping and blowing their trumpets about the virtues of recruiting foreign talents. We need talents from all over the world, with a world view, with diverse views, to grow, to be competitive and innovative. Sure, when your company is an international company competing in the international market and needing an international team of staff with cross country knowledge and information to keep the company in touch with the rapid changes overseas. No body can argue against that. So Citibank has a very international staff, recruiting people from all over the world, as they have branches all over the world.
Why does a local company with local operations and local interests like the SMRT or the NTUC need foreign talents? For what? Why would the ministries, the stats boards or GLCs need foreign talents, to be international in their staff composition, to look international, to show people they are international when they don’t need to? There may be a need, an important need for some companies or institutions to want an international outlook, an international perspective that only foreigners and foreign talents can provide. But many do not need to do so. And this is simply commonsensical in a local operation when the customers are locals. Even banks like Citibank do not need to fill its staff with foreign talents when the branch is serving their own locals, in the cities or counties.
The obsession for foreign talents must not be allowed to become a blind fetish fad, a nice to have thing. Hiring foreigners must have clear and distinct objectives, a comparative advantage. Foolishly hiring foreigners for foreigner’s sake has an economic cost, a social cost and also a political cost. When our citizens are unemployed, especially the qualified, this is going to turn into a serious problem for families and the downfall of a govt.
In the medical industry when there is a shortage of local professionals, there is a need for foreigners to fill the vacancies. The doctors and nurses, preferably local to be able to relate and communicate with their patients could come from foreigners and with acceptable consequences. There are many jobs and professions that don’t need foreigners. Such companies and organisations are pretty obvious and when they do employ foreigners they will stand up like a sore thumb when locals are available. Worst, such institutions may be national in nature and have a national duty and responsibility to its own citizens.
The other big danger of padding the top management with foreigners is that the organisation could be hijacked and turned into their own fiefdom at the expense of the local owners. Citibank and many MNCs are good examples of being hijacked by their international crews and lost their identity and purpose of who they are and whose interests they are serving. The Americans and Europeans are facing this problem when the MNCs uprooted and left America for greener pastures.
The govt should seriously come out with a policy to curb this wanton recruitment of foreigners for the sake of looking international when there is no need to and when the local PMETs are left redundant, left in the lurch. I am referring to local and govt linked companies or govt institutions and ministries. For goodness sake, why do you want a Greek god as your PR man or Jolie Angeline as the receptionist for companies like NTUC or SBS or Pasar Malam Incorporation? Or why would you need a foreign accountant in your backroom? Your domestic operations and businesses do not need foreigners or foreign talents for their world views and perspectives.
There must be a place for the natives and for the natives to be gainfully employed with dignity and pride as citizens of the country. They must not be treated as expendables to be discarded ASAP when a FT is available.