Companies can tap new MOM scheme to help local workers learn from overseas experts

The Manpower Ministry has started a pilot run of the programme to fund salary and training for both foreign and local trainers, and local trainees.
The Manpower Ministry has started a pilot run of the programme to fund salary and training for both foreign and local trainers, and local trainees. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Companies will now be able to tap a new scheme to source trainers from overseas, in order to help local workers pick up skills and knowledge which may be lacking in Singapore.

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) has started a pilot run of the programme to fund salary and training for both foreign and local trainers, and local trainees by between 30 per cent and 90 per cent. It can fund on-the-job training overseas as well.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say on Tuesday (Oct 10) announced the Capability Transfer Programme at a seminar on how companies can develop human capital.

He gave several examples of companies and sectors hoping to benefit from overseas know-how, which stand to benefit from the scheme.

A company in the interior furnishing industry wants to build expertise in products for healthcare, while companies in food manufacturing want to learn more about high pressure processing to extend the shelf life of products.

The Singapore Motor Workshop Association also hopes to improve workshop productivity here by 20 per cent to 30 per cent through training mechanics in diagnosing problems in hybrid cars and repairing such vehicles, which are growing in popularity, Mr Lim added.

More support will be given to small and medium-sized enterprises and to initiatives that benefit the entire industry rather than a single company. The scheme can co-fund hardware purchases as well.

Mr Lim noted that Singapore has been able to move fast and remain competitive so far because it embraced an eclectic mindset, learning from the experience and expertise of others in the world and adapting them into something more suitable for the local context.

Today, economies worldwide are facing transformation, and Singapore will have to compete not just on cost but also in new and better capabilities, he said.

"It is simply not possible for any economy, corporation and workforce to try to be self-sufficient in the fast-changing world of technology, innovation and global competition. So we have to build new capabilities that will be in great demand in the future but are currently lacking or in short supply here, as quickly as possible," he told about 200 representatives from various companies at the Raffles City Convention Centre.

Applications for the scheme will be assessed on a case-by-case basis during the pilot run, taking into consideration the skills gaps and how useful the transfer of expertise will be to the individual company and the industry as a whole, he said.

The scheme is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen what the MOM has called the "Singaporean core" of workers here and enhance how local and foreign workers complement, rather than compete with, one another.

Mr Lim also said that developing human capital is critical to Singapore's future growth, especially as its working-age resident population is projected to stagnate before the end of this decade, down from the 1.3 per cent annualised growth from 2005 to 2015. 

At the event, he presented certificates to 56 progressive employers who have recently joined the Human Capital Partnership programme, which aims to grow a community of employers who are committed to developing the capabilities of their employees.

There are now 130 employers that are recognised as Human Capital Partners. Together, they employ about 130,000 locals, or more than 5 per cent of the local workforce.

Mr Lim urged these employers to pursue innovation, productivity as well as inclusive growth, he said. Companies on the programme, which was launched last year, need to commit to three priorities: build a stronger Singaporean core by investing in employees of all ages and at all levels; select foreigners that complement local workers and not substitute them; and proactively transfer expertise from foreign professionals, managers, executives and technicians to locals.

They are rewarded with benefits such as being put on the fast track when applying to the MOM for foreign worker passes and grants, and a dedicated hot line to reach the ministry instead of having to go through the general call centre.

They can also get advice from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices on training and grant applications.