New skills framework for wholesale trade sector

(From left) SkillsFuture Singapore chief executive Ng Cher Pong, Senior Minister of State Koh Poh Koon and Enterprise Singapore assistant chief executive Satvinder Singh at the skills framework launch yesterday.
(From left) SkillsFuture Singapore chief executive Ng Cher Pong, Senior Minister of State Koh Poh Koon and Enterprise Singapore assistant chief executive Satvinder Singh at the skills framework launch yesterday. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A new skills framework to help employers and employees in the wholesale trade sector in their career advancement was launched yesterday by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon.

Developed by Enterprise Singapore, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore, the framework is a comprehensive guide to help in planning career paths, identifying suitable training programmes and developing new skills required for jobs in the sector.

It identifies core career tracks for wholesale trade businesses, covering 42 job roles, and outlines 76 technical skills and competencies required in emerging areas.

"Like many other industries, the wholesale trade sector faces disruption from the advancement of digital technology," Dr Koh said.

"Increasingly, more companies are looking to adopt digital technologies such as automation, data analytics and online platforms to drive growth and expansion.

"What this means is that our workers must pick up new relevant skills and keep pace with the changing needs of the industry."

A major contributor to Singapore's economy, the wholesale trade sector comprises 34,000 establishments, and contributed to more than 9 per cent of all jobs here last year.

 
 
 

More than 80 per cent of its sales are derived from overseas markets, and the sector is impacted by disruptive technologies such as blockchain, big data analytics and artificial intelligence, as well as the rise of digital marketplaces facilitating more global business-to-business e-commerce transactions.

Other developments include the growing emphasis on sustainable trade processes and practices, and changes in international trade standards and requirements.

The skills framework - one of the strategies under the wholesale trade industry transformation map rolled out by Enterprise Singapore last year to help companies adopt digital technology and internationalise - aims to help trading companies and their employees adapt to changes and develop the skills required to compete effectively.

Companies can refer to the framework to formulate their talent management plan and skills development strategies, Dr Koh said.

"For individuals, the skills framework will be a useful reference tool to identify the skill sets needed for their desired jobs, and the relevant training programmes that will assist them in their career development," he added.

Enterprise Singapore is partnering U SME, a labour movement initiative under the National Trades Union Congress, to encourage adoption of the framework.

They will co-develop the Wholesale Trade Leaders Circle, an initiative to create a community of like-minded business leaders who are advocates for progressive human resource practices and will work with the Government on manpower training and reskilling efforts.

So far, 18 companies have joined the initiative and have committed to using the skills framework to improve their human resource practices and talent development. They also aim to send at least half of their employees for training and skills upgrading within the next two years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2018, with the headline 'New skills framework for wholesale trade sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe