Coronavirus: Aviation sector commits to filling over 17,500 training spaces, says NTUC

Top officials from Singapore Airlines, Scoot and Sats affirmed their commitment to workers at a closed-door dialogue. PHOTO: NG CHEE MENG/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - All major firms in Singapore's aviation sector have committed to sending their workers to fill more than 17,500 training places as the industry grapples with the suspension of flights due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said on Sunday (April 5).

Top officials from Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SIA Engineering Company and airport and food services provider Sats affirmed this at a closed-door dialogue last Friday with NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng.

These firms would use the downtime to speed up workers' training and upgrading, including for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) in the sector, "developing real technical capabilities and capacities" through the use of digital technologies, NTUC said in a statement.

Mr Ng said he was heartened to see aviation sector unions and companies working together to send workers for training during this downtime, and that government assistance such as the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will help firms save manpower costs as they invest in their workforce.

Launched in Budget 2020 and enhanced during the supplementary Resilience Budget, the JSS will provide the aviation and tourism sector 75 per cent salary support for the first $4,600 of each local employee's gross monthly wage.

The aviation industry is among the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the International Air Transport Association (Iata) said last month that its impact on air travel will rival the fall-out of the global economic crisis in 2009.

"NTUC and our unions stand ready to work with (firms) to upskill and upgrade our workers during this downtime, so that when the storm clears, both company and worker can be better positioned to exploit all the opportunities that the world will show us again," said Mr Ng.

Scoot, for instance, will send 1,900 flight and cabin crew - or over three-quarters of its workforce - for digital awareness training, where participants will develop awareness of and self-confidence in using technology, said NTUC.

Some of this training will be home-based, NTUC added.

As a key training provider, NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB) is rapidly ramping up its training capacity to meet demand from various sectors, and is augmenting this through virtual live classes, said NTUC LHUB CEO Kwek Kok Kwong.

The range of courses will also soon be expanded to cover areas such as change management, project management, service excellence related courses, and technical training.

For instance, pilots can benefit from training on fatigue management, while other industry workers can soon choose from courses in cargo documentation, aircraft maintenance and so on.

These efforts will translate to more than 39,500 training days, said NTUC.

"Working closely with the Labour Movement and employers, NTUC LearningHub is acting swiftly to help aviation workers and companies build their resilience and adaptability by gaining new skills," said Mr Kwek.

"We believe that upskilling is even more important in times of change. It is heartening to see that many trainees have remained positive and have kept their minds so open to upgrading their skills."

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