$45m mentor scheme to help SMEs manage staff

Spring S'pore setting up pool of 400 mentors for SkillsFuture scheme to aid 2,000 firms

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) keen to build up human resource capabilities can now get help from expert mentors.

Enterprise development agency Spring Singapore has set aside $45 million for a new scheme to help SMEs improve staff training and career progression pathways.

Called the SkillsFuture Mentors Programme, it aims to build up a pool of 400 mentors who will offer support to 2,000 SMEs over the next three years.

Spring will provide full programme funding to the companies over this period, it said in a statement yesterday.

Mentors will be attached to eligible SMEs for nine months, helping them to enhance staff development systems while training company supervisors and managers.

NEW WAYS TO KEEP TALENT

Many SMEs face challenges in talent attraction and retention because of a lack of experience and resources to put in place robust training plans and career progression pathways for employees.

MS CHEW MOK LEE, Spring's assistant chief executive

The goal is for participating SMEs to eventually join the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme. This work-study scheme is designed to give fresh polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education graduates a head start in careers that are related to their discipline of study.

The pilot pool of 18 mentors completed an orientation programme conducted by Republic Polytechnic, and will make use of peer-learning platforms to continually upgrade their skills.

SMEs need to adapt to evolving changes, find a distinctive market niche and develop their competitive advantage through deep capabilities, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran at the programme's launch yesterday.

The quality and skills of their employees would play a fundamental role, he added.

Ms Chew Mok Lee, Spring's assistant chief executive, said: "Many SMEs face challenges in talent attraction and retention because of a lack of experience and resources to put in place robust training plans and career progression pathways for employees."

Republic Polytechnic principal Yeo Li Pheow said the institution trains mentors to develop effective coaching and mentoring skills that will complement their technical knowledge.

SMEs interested in joining the programme can apply at www.spring.gov.sg/sfmentors

Spring Singapore is also looking for more SkillsFuture Mentors, who must have at least eight years' industry experience, five years' management experience and expertise in learning and development.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline '$45m mentor scheme to help SMEs manage staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe