NEA should stop interfering with private sector's lawful recruitment practices

NEA should stop interfering with private sector's lawful recruitment practices

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Ben Ng started this petition to National environment agency (NEA)

It was baffling to read the article on the National Environment Agency (NEA) asking for tray return ambassador job listings to be taken down (July 3, https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/nea-asks-for-tray-return-ambassador-job-listings-to-be-taken-down

 

The reason quoted by NEA for the removal of job listings was that no contract for these roles has been awarded yet. My question would be: “why should private sector firms wait for awarded contracts before commencing job advertisements”? The recruitment process involves many time-consuming steps – recruitment planning, advertising, interviewing and onboarding. Thus it is not unusual for firms to advertise for possible job openings in advance of being awarded jobs. The survival of private sector firms depends on their ability to stay nimble and to plan ahead to deal with any anticipated business contracts and events. This pre-planning would include deciding on the amount to quote for the tender, taking into account the additional cost of human resources and other overheads needed to fulfil tenders. By asking for the removal of job listings, NEA is in fact discouraging private sector firms from being pro-active and planning ahead.

 

On the issue of cleaning and recruitment firms offering salaries of over $2,000, it is to be noted that, beside the job scope, ambassadors’ salaries are decided by market forces of supply and demand. Arguably these private sector firms would have a better gauge of the market forces and job market conditions. Firms cannot be overquoting or underquoting salaries as it would affect profitability, and the ability to provide the required number of tray return ambassadors in order to avoid penalties for failure to do so. The delaying of job advertisement until contracts are awarded, as requested by NEA, would serve no useful purpose and would not significantly change the offered salaries.

 

The NEA being a public service body may not be fully aware of how private sector firms run their business in the most efficient ways and what it takes to win business. It is interesting to note that PM Lee had in 2020 (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fresh-perspectives-of-mid-career-hires-valued-pm told public sector leaders that public service has not done well enough in recruiting mid-career entrants from the private sector. These mid-career entrants have direct experience of how the private sector operates, bring new perspectives and may question approaches that may have long been taken for granted. NEA should focus on its core business of ensuring a clean and sustainable environment for Singapore. This could be a reason why NEA outsources the recruitment of ambassadors to private firms. NEA should try to understand how the private sector operates and also question whether it is necessary, in this instance, to put its hands into the recruitment practices of private firms whose core business is providing goods and services in the most effective and efficient manner to clients.

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