Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What lies ahead for SMEs

SINGAPORE: Caution ahead! The sign seems to what most small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore see on the horizon.

The findings of the 9th annual SME Development Survey which were shared during a conference co-sponsored by HSBC Singapore, indicated that SMEs seem more aware of the potential for another downturn and the need for financial strength.

Ms Ong Siew Kim, general manager of DP Information Group, however noted that despite the low confidence level that impacted overseas expansion, SMEs should push beyond the familiarity of the local market to seize opportunities presented by regional as well as global markets as part of their overall long term strategy.

Other findings revealed – plans to freeze new hire in the year ahead, with the proportion of SMEs reducing human capital in the year ahead doubling, as opposed to the 2010 increase in hiring activities. The report further reveals that fewer SMEs are looking to invest in staff training and development. The conclusion is backed by WDA’s training scheme Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) in November 2010 which has seen SMEs’ investment in staff training take a backset.

The survey conducted between May and August this year among some 2,504 SMEs also found that only those in the information & communications sector plan to invest in staff training, while more companies in general, intend to employ higher skilled workers as part of their manpower strategies.

Given that budgets for technology innovation and staff training are being reduced, the survey also found that expansionary expenditure like branding and advertising strategies are less important.

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