Strengthening the Singaporean core, while taking advantage of necessary foreign labour inputs, has been much discussed of late.
Alongside this effort, is a counterpoint worth pondering: Can tiny Singapore develop a core of globalists in the private and public sectors who are at ease operating in major cities and dealing with people of different cultures?
Given the strategic orientation of the city-state, one would expect a significant proportion of Singaporeans to have a global outlook, as exemplified by the nation's first prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. There are indeed many globetrotters here but in the larger economy, Singaporeans are reluctant to work abroad.
As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted, this constrains the nation's potential. Developing a corps of global-minded leaders, professionals and skilled workers can take Singapore to the next level of accomplishment.
The reasons Singaporeans tend to give for not seizing assignments abroad suggest that many would rather stay in their comfort zone. Family, food, availability of domestic help, in-laws to look after children and education are issues often raised.
One valid concern is the problem of children finding satisfactory education options abroad and their re-entry into the Singapore system. Parents might legitimately ask how their Singapore-born children's foreign educational qualifications will be treated in vying for places in secondary schools and tertiary institutions.
Singaporeans who venture out to widen their horizons - personal, professional and economic - deserve support.
The Singapore International Foundation offers this through its diverse programmes. By linking them up with each other and with organisations that seek footholds abroad, a valuable network of Singapore globalists can be established. Their stories might well inspire more young people to boldly go where adventures beckon.
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