Proposed rules worry training centres

The Workplace Safety and Health Council has asked centres offering workplace safety training for construction workers if they can raise paid-up capital to $1 million if given up to six months' notice. It also asked if they would be able to have at le
The Workplace Safety and Health Council has asked centres offering workplace safety training for construction workers if they can raise paid-up capital to $1 million if given up to six months' notice. It also asked if they would be able to have at least one full-time workplace safety and health trainer who holds a Diploma in Adult Continuing Education, under the WSQ framework.ST FILE PHOTO

Those running workplace safety courses for construction workers asked for feedback

Centres that run workplace safety courses for construction workers here are uneasy about the prospect of tighter regulations.

In an e-mail sent out in October, the Workplace Safety and Health Council had asked training providers, who are accredited by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), for feedback on possible higher criteria in order to remain in the industry.

It asked centres if they can raise paid-up capital to $1 million if given up to six months' notice. It also asked if they would be able to have at least one full-time workplace safety and health trainer who holds a Diploma in Adult Continuing Education, under the Workforce Skills Qualifications framework.

The e-mail was "part of the ongoing sensing with the industry training providers", it read.

But 15 training centres interviewed by The Sunday Times all expressed concerns about the proposed rules. "There is no way we can afford that, no matter when we are notified," said Mr Zamri, the principal trainer of training company A-Bide, who goes by one name. The firm's paid-up capital is $55,000 and it has three full-time employees.

The proposed requirements came as more centres got into trouble. As of Nov 6, eight centres had their licences revoked this year, compared with six last year. Previously, there were only two other cases, in 2010 and 2013.

MOM did not reply to queries about the context of the e-mail by press time.

In October, The Sunday Times reported malpractices at some centres, which let workers copy answers during tests, for instance. One centre's director has since come forward to say his centre's certificates are being forged and sold (see sidebar).

Even before the proposed requirements, training providers are already required to obtain the International Organization for Standardisation 29990:2010 Learning Service Provider certification by July 2017. It is run by the Singapore Accreditation Council and replaces the MOM Accredited Training Provider Scheme.

Mr Seet Choh San, president of the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers, which trains safety officers, said the proposed measures "may help raise the overall quality of training in Singapore".

But others said the stiffer rules may have negative consequences. "Bosses know they cannot meet the requirement...so they may want to make as much as they can before they close (down) by selling certificates," said the 37-year-old operator of a centre near Pioneer MRT station who gave his name only as Mr Koh.

"The punishment is usually a fine or that they cannot join the industry for a number of years. But they are planning to leave, anyway," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'Proposed rules worry training centres'. Print Edition | Subscribe