SMEs to get expert advice, training to boost productivity

Companies can now get help to raise productivity, thanks to a mentorship programme unveiled yesterday.

The programme involves industry advisers guiding companies on identifying areas where output can be improved and training selected employees to initiate projects.

The Workforce Development Agency, which developed the Mentorship for Accelerating Productivity programme with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), has set aside over $1 million to train up to 300 employees from 60 companies.

SBF chief executive Ho Meng Kit said access to expert advice on productivity improvement will be valuable to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"For SMEs, this kind of dedicated help and knowledge from outside the company would be very useful because they don't have it in-house," added Mr Ho.

He noted that firms could lift productivity by focusing on improving employee engagement.

"There have been many surveys by human resource agencies on where we lie in terms of employee engagement compared with other jurisdictions, I don't think we score particularly well," he said.

"In addition to the conversation about productivity around innovation, around technology, around process improvement, (we need) to shift it to the softer issue of culture. If managers and management and employees don't have trust and engagement... you can have the best technology, the best photocopier and whatever, it will (still) not work."

Mr Sam Chee Wah, general manager at Feinmetall Singapore, a company which provides hardware to test semiconductor products, said he hopes the programme can diagnose areas where productivity can be raised in his firm.

Mr Sam also wants help to improve the use of manpower and execution of deliveries.

The programme was announced by Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Manpower, at the SBF-organised Singapore Productivity Conference and Exhibition 2015.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'SMEs to get expert advice, training to boost productivity'. Print Edition | Subscribe