Professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) in the biomedical sciences industry can grow their digital and leadership skills through an initiative launched yesterday.
The Biomedical Sciences Training Community has been set up by NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and the Chemical Industries Employees' Union (CIEU) with the aim of building a community of learners.
One key programme under the initiative is Project Zodiac, a leadership training workshop to help middle and senior managers develop self-awareness and adaptive skills such as effective communication, problem solving and resilience.
It comprises a two-day retreat and three half-day workshops, as well as a 60-day period for them to implement what they have learnt through a project at work.
About 100 mid-management employees from 14 companies have taken part since it started in March, and another 100 will likely attend by the year end.
The Biopharmaceutical Manufacturers' Advisory Council (BMAC), a group of government agencies and 16 companies, started the programme as a pilot two years ago with leadership training company Forest Wolf and now wants to expand it to the rest of the industry.
BMAC co-chair Lim Hock Heng, who is vice-president and site director at GSK's Pharmaceuticals Supply Chain Singapore, said many foreign biomedical firms here are still young and are currently led by people from their home countries.
But over time, as these companies develop more confidence in the local teams, more locals may be appointed to lead the firms.
"There are many bright and young locals with deep technical skills, but as we prepare them for leadership roles, they need to know how to make good decisions, navigate complex environments, take risks and motivate people," he said.
"This requires a conscious investment in soft skills," he added.
Singapore's biomedical sciences industry employs over 22,000 people and includes eight of the top 10 pharmaceutical and biologics companies in the world, said NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng at an industry event yesterday.
Technology adoption by companies is high and more advanced than in most other industries, so workers need to adapt, he said.
"Having the strategy to match Worker 4.0 with Industry 4.0 is key to meeting the demand for skilled manpower in both technical and management positions," he added.
Besides improving leadership skills, workers can also attend bite-sized courses on Industry 4.0 run by Nanyang Technological University and Republic Polytechnic.
They can also learn about digitalisation and industry topics such as microbiology laboratory safety and stem cell technologies, through NTUC's mobile learning app ULeap.
So far, close to 1,500 PMETs have gone through these programmes, and e2i and CIEU aim to train another 1,500 by next year.
GSK senior chemical engineer Charles Wong, 36, attended the Project Zodiac course in March and April and was one of the top graduates. He said he used what he learnt on a yield improvement project he was leading.
He led his team of about 20 people to reduce the scope and cost of the project by 95 per cent, while still achieving the same yield outcome.
He also convinced senior managers to endorse the new plan by tailoring his presentation to their different communication styles.
The team was able to complete the project while he was on paternity leave in June.
"I felt very proud as a person and also for my team," said Mr Wong.