Skills road map for manufacturing sector launched

SINGAPORE - A new training framework for the manufacturing industry was launched on Tuesday (July 24), to set out for workers the broad areas of skills and knowledge they need to acquire to stay abreast of rapid technological changes.

Developed by the labour movement, the framework encourages manufacturing workers to deepen their skills in four areas: process automation, the Internet of things, data analytics and artificial intelligence.

Courses run by various institutes of higher learning and training providers relevant to these skill areas will also be identified, so that employers and employees can sign up for them.

At the launch of the framework, Dr Koh Poh Koon, who is deputy secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said: "Every job across the world is threatened by technology and disruption and everyone wants to transform their industry, but not many people really know quite how to do so."

The industry transformation maps (ITMs) that Singapore has drawn up represent a pioneering effort to help businesses cope with disruptive change, he said.

"Many countries are looking at us, seeing how we do it, in order to try to see how they can model after us to undertake their own transformation as well," said Dr Koh, who is also Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

The ITMs are 23 industry-specific road maps which aim to take an integrated approach where trade associations and chambers, companies, and the Government work together to help each sector prepare for the future.

The newly launched skills framework covers five ITMs that together form the manufacturing cluster. It is developed by the NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) and the labour movement's training network.

Acknowledging that workers may feel a sense of uncertainty over how the roll-out of ITMs may affect them, Dr Koh said skills frameworks like the one launched on Tuesday are aimed at soothing anxieties by providing workers with a clear road map for staying relevant.

"By articulating the framework, by articulating the plan, we hope to take away some of these uncertainties," he said, speaking at a seminar which was part of the labour movement's Oil, Petrochemical, Energy and Chemical Week.

Also launched on Tuesday were two training initiatives tied to the new skills framework.

Together, the two initiatives are expected to impact 1,500 professionals, managers, executives and technicians in the manufacturing sector, said e2i.

The first is a series of bite-sized two-hour seminars and a mobile app with learning resources.

The 20 seminars across 17 topics were curated by the Nanyang Technological University's College of Professional and Continuing Education.

Some learning materials from the seminars will be made available via NTUC's ULeap app for mobile learning.

The second initiative - a collaboration with Singapore Polytechnic (SP) - will offer experienced laboratory and process technicians the chance to get professionally certified via an assessment-only pathway.

Existing workers who have attained relevant skills after years of on-the-job experience can choose to be assessed. Those deemed to be qualified will receive professional certification as laboratory technicians without having to go through courses.

Others with specific skill gaps can sign up for any one of 10 bite-sized modules by SP, which take up to four hours each, to bridge the gaps before receiving the professional certificates.

Explaining this initiative, Dr Koh said: "We all know that in real-life work, a certificate does not necessarily convey the kind of skills you have and experience. How do we then reverse engineer this to make sure the years of experience and work can have some form of measurement to put a worth to it?"

New entrants can also receive the same SP certification by completing 10 modules, each of which involves seven hours of learning.