Workers recognised for improving themselves and productivity

SINGAPORE - After 17 years out of the workforce and with her four children finally schooling full-time, Ms Siti Baizurah decided to work again.

It was a daunting prospect for the former factory worker with one 'O' level credit, but she jumped in with both feet, becoming first a centre attendant with NTUC First Campus, then later pursuing part-time classes to become an infant care teacher. The four-hour evening classes, thrice a week for two years, meant she had to forego family time for making dinner or supervising her four children's school work.

"I told them if mummy can study, so can you," she said with a laugh. "I had to restart my engine, and get myself in the mindset to learn again." Today, Ms Siti makes up to $1,800 a month, far more than the roughly $400 she earned on the factory line part-time.

She was just one of about 200 workers and human resource personnel who were lauded on Saturday at the annual May Day partnership awards for their efforts to improve productivity, upskill and create a more resilient and adaptable workforce.

The winners received their awards from guest-of-honour Mr Stephen Lee, who is President of the Singapore National Employers Federation, and NTUC President Diana Chia.

"All awardees at the Awards today have made great effort to upgrade skills, improve productivity and ensure workplace diversity in their respective ways, so that our workers and companies remain globally competitive," said co-chairman of the awards Lim Kuang Beng.

"Workers have embraced the need to continuously upgrade their skills and adapt in this dynamic economy, and they need great support from their employers and unions to successfully complete their courses."