Sharpening and boosting financial employees' skills

Minister notes challenges sector faces, ways to seize opportunities

There are plans to strengthen employee skills in the financial sector, where technology is evolving and start-ups are rapidly advancing.

The global financial industry is in "the midst of profound change" with low growth and low interest rates, and global regulatory reforms, noted National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a dinner organised by the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) last night.

"Traditional financial institutions now also have to deal with another challenge - from technological advances and a rapidly proliferating class of technological start-ups."

However, these represent opportunities for Singapore, said Mr Wong, which is why the SkillsFuture movement plays such an important role, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working closely with IBF and the Financial Sector Tripartite Committee.

The aim is to tap institutes of higher learning for talent, sharpen the help finance professionals get for job transitions, and provide more support for people to upgrade themselves.

For instance, MAS and the polytechnics will sign a memorandum of understanding later this month to work on grooming talent.

Mr Wong said: "(We) expect more than 2,500 students to benefit from focused curriculum content, internship opportunities and project work in fintech development."

The committee, together with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, is also launching the professional conversion programme for the finance industry, to support people planning to move into areas such as compliance, where talent is in demand.

IBF, together with the industry, will also offer learning modules on "a set of six core capabilities which will underpin a more digitalised financial sector". Important areas include digital communications, cyber risk and governance.

The plan is to create a better learning environment through online and mobile applications.

The IBF portal will be improved for a customised learning experience, such as allowing users to track their training and assessment records. A new learning tool is also slated for release by next year.

Mr Wong also noted that the MAS recently improved training grant schemes to give more funding support to financial-sector employees older than 40 years old.

More than 70 Singaporeans have received study awards for the sector, he added, including administrative assistant Joline Shi, 31, from asset manager Proa Partners, and Mr Chu Soon Kit, 32, who is pursuing a master's degree in insurance and risk management.

"We encourage more individuals to tap SkillsFuture programmes and support to take charge of their future career development and progression," said Mr Wong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Sharpening and boosting financial employees' skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe