Bite-size workshops for workers on subscription basis

NTUC scheme offers unlimited access to over 60 classes in a year on topics like data science

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Chan Chun Sing announced the U Future Leaders Exchange (UFLX), which offers users unlimited access to more than 60 workshops over a year, on subjects ranging from data science to public speaking.

For about the same price as a premium Spotify music subscription - less than $10 a month - workers will be able to attend bite-size workshops and networking events under a new subscription scheme by the labour movement.

The U Future Leaders Exchange (UFLX) offers users unlimited access to more than 60 workshops over a year, on subjects ranging from data science to public speaking.

Announced yesterday by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, the scheme costs $100 to use for a year. NTUC members pay $30 for a year.

The aim is to help workers prepare themselves for the many career transitions they will make in their life, Mr Chan told reporters after a dialogue with about 1,200 professionals at a conference.

He said the dialogue participants at Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre had brought up a lack of time, a lack of money and the need for a mindset change as the three top challenges they face in preparing themselves.

It is difficult for working adults to take time off from family and job commitments to go for courses, he noted. Also, very few people will be able to invest a large amount in taking courses where the employment or earning outcomes are uncertain.

"We are looking at how (we can) compress modules into bite-size formats, delivered to workers just-in-time, rather than have them going out for a prolonged course and take them away from their jobs in a prolonged manner - how (we can) drastically reduce the cost of them gaining knowledge," said Mr Chan, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

NTUC said it aims to have 10,000 workers on board the scheme by the end of next year. Since the launch of the pilot run in March this year, 200 paid subscribers have signed up, while about 1,000 people have used it on a three-month trial basis, which is free.

About four workshops are held each month, for about two hours each in the evening, with online content being developed as well.

The 50 or so events held under UFLX so far include a conference for educators organised by the Singapore Teachers' Union and a learning journey to Intel's Digital Hub for Asia-Pacific and Japan organised by the Port Officers' Union. Tech firms and multinational corporations such as Microsoft and Procter and Gamble are also offering access to their innovation laboratories.

NTUC assistant director-general Vivek Kumar, who heads the U Future Leaders unit, said the bite-size workshops and networking sessions can help workers understand emerging trends and requirements in their own or other industries. They can then decide whether to go for further courses in a new area to deepen their skills.

Software manager Chan Ching Huat, 44, who has signed up for UFLX and attended over 10 events - such as on change management - since April, said he wants to gain knowledge from other industries and build up his network. "In this era, there's no one fixed field you'll be working in... so it's important to expose yourself to different things."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2017, with the headline Bite-size workshops for workers on subscription basis. Subscribe