"If you want to attract talent, you need to make real drives toward sustainability and prove it with real actions, marketing gimmicks will not suffice."

Charles Pfauwadel

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT ASIA & PNG, AIRSWIFT

November 24, 2023

Can you give us an update on recent developments at Airswift?

This year we announced an exclusive partnership with Greenbackers Investment Capital. Together, we aim to support cleantech start-ups as they accelerate the energy transition. Airswift seeks to help these start-ups identify local and expatriate talent and handle the back-end administration, such as compliance, mobility, logistics, etc. We want to help these companies develop new sustainable technologies and improve on existing ones. This project is very much aligned with our energy transition goals as a company.

Although we historically focused on the energy industry, we now provide services to companies that design, build, and operate huge complex facilities, such as chemical plants. We are observing a trend of chemical plants becoming increasingly complex. Here at Airswift, we are moving towards a more balanced mix of projects, data centers, specialty chemical plants, etc.

What are some challenges facing the Singaporean chemical industry when it comes to attracting talent and what is being done to address them?

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to job seekers. The chemical industry has historically had a stigma around it, often being viewed as an unsustainable industry, and this has deterred many young job seekers from entering the industry. We notice that of those who do join, many are drawn toward R&D roles to work on sustainability and digitalization projects. The recent push for sustainability has contributed to the attractiveness of such roles to job seekers.

Singaporean government agencies have put immense effort into developing excellent platforms to assist local companies and job seekers. It has been impressive to witness the efforts of these agencies, some of which even go as far as providing financial incentives. Government agencies believe that somebody good at their job can often carry over their skillset to a completely different industry. As usual, the Singaporean government was a pioneer in terms of initiatives to attract talent. Initiatives such as the Overseas Networks & Expertise Pass as well as other immigration schemes were launched to make it easier for skilled foreign workers to move to Singapore. Other countries, such as Malaysia and Dubai, have followed suit with similar initiatives.

Have recent advances in automation and digitalization made it harder for young talent to find work in the Chemical industry?

We have been asking this question for many decades, but the answer is always the same. Today on Jurong Island, companies are desperate for skilled technicians for example. In fact, these technologies have created even more highly skilled roles that did not even exist a few years ago.

What are some new products and services Airswift has launched?

In recent years, our focus has been on improving the user experience of our services. For example, we have built a new digital self-help tool that provides a faster and more efficient service. The tool handles all the administrative menial tasks while allowing us to maintain the human touch with our clients. Human contact can now be focused on creating relationships and discussing job opportunities and strategies.

Additionally, we have organized ourselves to form two delivery centers, one in Rio de Janeiro and one in Kuala Lumpur such that somebody is always available at any time of night or day. This means we can react quickly to sudden unexpected events such as oil spills or refinery shutdowns that require us to rapidly assemble a team to service our clients, wherever they may be.

What were the main findings of Airswift’s 2023 Global Energy Talent Index report and your outlook for the next year?

Sustainability was a crucial theme of this year’s report. People are now feeling the real effects of climate change and almost everyone who is looking for a job in our industries wants to participate in the sustainability drive. Many people are increasingly willing to take pay cuts, move country, and change jobs simply to get exposure to sustainability. The message to companies is clear: if you want to attract talent, you need to make real drives toward sustainability and prove it with real actions, marketing gimmicks will not suffice.

We find that across the supply chain, there is a big push for STEM talent, bringing lots of attractive opportunities for young job seekers in Singapore. Airswift’s focus is on continuing to build a strong pool of local talent that can support the companies that are building the technologies of tomorrow.

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