DPM Heng Swee Keat at the "People Behind People" 2020 Forum

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 10 December 2020

Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the "People Behind People" 2020 Forum on 10 December 2020.


Good morning! I am happy to join you at the People Behind People forum, to pay tribute to our HR professionals.

We are coming to the end of a year lived under the shadow of COVID-19, severely disrupting how we work, live, play, and connect with one another. At the same time, it has also been a year full of stories of hope and resilience. Today, I am happy to join you to honour a set of often unseen heroes – the HR professionals.

The Role of HR during COVID-19

The impact of the crisis for human resources has been significant. All of you have been the people behind our people – to keep our workers safe and our organisations going during the pandemic. The Economist has likened the role of Chief Human Resources Officer in this crisis to that of the Chief Financial Officer in the Global Financial Crisis.

Many workers went through tremendous change this year – taking on remote work, embarking on business transformation, and getting used to safe management measures. You worked hard to care for the welfare and tend to the mental well-being of your colleagues, keeping them feeling safe, supported and motivated. You partnered SkillsFuture Singapore and our unions to help our workers upskill or take on new roles.  You supported the creation of new opportunities, including through the SGUnited Jobs & Skills Programmes and Jobs Growth Initiative.

A big thank you to all of you!

The Role of HR in the Future

Looking ahead, our HR professionals will have an even more important role to play. COVID has accelerated transformation, many of them structural in nature that were already taking place. Our future will be shaped by technological disruptions, opportunities in Asia, and our demographic challenges.  To emerge stronger from the pandemic, we will have to press on with our Industry Transformation Maps.

This means the pace of job change will quicken, so too the impetus to help workers upskill to take on new roles or switch to new areas of work.  The HR profession will need to be even more agile in navigating change as a strategic business partner, so  I am glad that the HR community has continued to press on with sector development and transformation during these challenging times.

A few months ago, the HR Industry Transformation Advisory Panel developed recommendations for the next bound of HR transformation. Our institutions – such as the Institute for Human Resource Professionals, the Singapore Human Resources Institute, and the Human Capital Leadership Institute – play a critical role in uplifting the standing and professionalism of our HR community. I encourage you to keep up the good work and grow our HR community as a force multiplier for workforce development and economic growth.

I am glad that the entire HR community has come together for the first time under the “People Behind People” banner to collaborate and support one another. This is in keeping with the spirit of Singapore Together, where we pull together our resources and tap on one another’s strength, to build a better future for all.

A big thank you to our organisers and to all of you for attending this forum. Even as you all remain dedicated to your work and caring for your colleagues, I hope you will get in good quality time with your loved ones during the holiday season.  Have an enriching forum!

Thank you.