22 Singapore employers receive award for commitment to skills development

Dr Kenneth Tong was one of 22 employers receiving an award for their commitment to skills development and skills mastery. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - Staff at the Animal and Avian Veterinary Clinic are allowed to try out different roles and rotate through different departments such as surgery, hospitalisation wards and administration.

Each staff member also receives a training allowance of $600 every year to pick up new skills, with no conditions attached.

Dr Kenneth Tong, 40, founder and head vet at the clinic, said: "All skills, related or not, can still be applied in a work setting."

For example, if an employee wanted to learn to use Photoshop or Web designing, he could put that skill to use in redesigning the clinic website. A course on air-con servicing could also come in handy for the clinic's air-con unit, Dr Tong added.

On Wednesday (Jan 20), the Animal and Avian Veterinary Clinic was one of 22 employers that received an award for their commitment to skills development and skills mastery.

Dr Tong received the award on behalf of the clinic at the fourth SkillsFuture Fellowships and Employer Awards ceremony at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

President Halimah Yacob, who handed out the awards, as well as Education Minister Lawrence Wong attended the ceremony organised by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

Eighteen individuals received a SkillsFuture Fellowship.

Mr Wong, in a speech, noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had forced people to fundamentally alter the way they live and work.

"Companies have had to rethink and re-orientate their business models to keep up with structural shifts in consumer behaviours and demands, and redouble their pursuit of digitalisation," he said.

"Employees, too, have had to keep pace with these changes, refresh and update their skills, and take on new job roles."

Said Dr Tong: "It is very important to re-skill and stay updated. Also, with new technology and new medication, we have to offer a range of services to stay competitive, and to provide the best for our clients."

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, for instance, his clinic has had to move into tele-consultations via platforms like Zoom and Google Meet.

Dr Tong said his 11 employees - nine full-time and two part-time - also get access to webinars and resources on topics such as stress management, leading healthy lifestyles, coping with Covid-19 and animal health and behaviour.

The clinic is also participating in the Work-Study Post-Diploma Programme, under which employers can recruit local fresh polytechnic graduates and prepare them for suitable job roles.

The programme is designed in collaboration with industry to ensure relevance to employers. Participants have a structured career progression pathway within the organisation.

To date, the clinic has seen four non-veterinarian staff who took on the specialist diploma in veterinary clinical practice.

Said Dr Tong: "I give them a salary increase upon successful completion or graduation (from the programme). If they have more responsibilities, they get a higher salary as well.

"All skills and experience gained is a talent - it adds to maturity, experience in handling a wide range of things such as customer service and crisis management.

"This will also make my staff more marketable - even if they decide to leave, they can find a new job in other clinics much easier too."

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