Initiate Human Capital Summit deliberates future of Brunei workforce

Initiate HR plenary forum
From L to R: Grominda Chief Human Capital Officer Anthony moderating the second plenary forum at Initiate with BSP HR Director Hjh Zainab, BIBD Strategic HR Business Partner Chui Hian and DotRoot co-founder Hj Muhd Saufi.

More than 100 leading professionals in human resource (HR) joined Brunei’s first human capital summit Initiate last Saturday to share best practices and the latest policies and developments that are shaping the country’s workforce and productivity.

The Initiate Human Capital Summit was organised by startups Grominda and Perspective Insan and was held at DARe’s Design and Technology building and iCentre.

The one-day programme featured two plenary forums focusing on national manpower initiatives, education-industry linkage and HR case examples from leading professionals in Brunei Shell Petroleum, BIBD and the startup ecosystem.

Against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic and increasing digitalisation, 12,355 Bruneians secured new jobs last year according to data from the Manpower Planning and Employment Council (MPEC), who have recently set up an industry steering committee across five sectors to identify and meet manpower demand required by the country’s industries.

Head of the MPEC Secretariat Marzalenie Hj Omar shared that although unemployment has dropped from 9.3% in 2017 to 6.8% in 2019, continuous upskilling programmes and closer education-industry linkages are needed to ensure Bruneians graduating from varying levels of education have the avenues to gain experience and meaningful employment.

Second MOFE minister speaking at Initiate HR
YB Dato Amin delivering a speech at Initiate.

The Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister of Finance and Economy YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said in his opening speech that human resource development will have a vital role in ensuring Bruneians have the skills and mentality to adapt to current and future demands.

“The advancement of technology also has the potential to increase competitiveness in the job market, as the acceptance of working remotely or virtually, essentially removes geographical barriers.  The youths of Brunei in the near future may well be competing for more jobs regionally,” said the minister who is also MPEC in his opening speech.

He added that as Brunei has contained the spread COVID-19 and the fourth industrial revolution has yet to take full-swing, workplace changes in the country have been relatively subtle compared to other countries.

“(Our current situations means) we have been given time and granted the chance to learn from the mistakes and successes of others around the world, to ensure we adopt and adapt only the best practices in managing HR… In light of all the changes that will inevitably come, the role of human resource management cannot be considered as a support function in an organization, but rather the strategic partner to help navigate the workforce to succeed in the uncertain future.”

Aside from the plenary forum in the morning, Initiate also hosted three series of workshops in the afternoon covering: digital HR management systems from Nuara Group, Track & Roll and Dynamik (Cendana); HR development from the Civil Service Institute, the Ministry of Education’s Lifelong Learning Centre, DARe’s Industry Business Academy, Damai Mediation and BizAdvize; and Brunei’s HR future with MPEC and the Centre of Strategic and Policy Studies.

Co-chairperson of Initiate and founder of Grominda Aiman Minorhadi said Initiate was held to gather HR professionals to share best practices, learn about the country’s manpower policies, and establish a dedicated HR practitioners network.