SINGAPORE - To ensure workers here are reskilled and upskilled effectively, the Government is setting aside $100 million to scale up efforts to help companies implement concrete training and transformation programmes.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said in his Budget speech on Friday (Feb 18) that part of the money will go towards a new grant to support firms that have set up company training committees to implement their transformation plans.
This new grant will be administered by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), which has been working with companies here to set up such committees.
Company training committees comprise representatives from a company's management as well as union leaders. Their job is to review the company's current training plans, identify skill gaps, plan for reskilling and career progression for their workers, and develop and implement new training programmes.
When the company training committee model was introduced in 2019, the NTUC had said then that it planned to set up 1,000 such committees over three years to help around 330,000 workers.
To date, more than 800 company training committees have been set up in firms of varying sizes. This is short of the original target.
Mr Wong said on Friday: "To maximise the investments in our people, we must also ensure a good match between the skills demanded by industry and those offered by the workforce."
This means bringing together employers, job seekers, and training and employment facilitation providers to anticipate where new skills are needed and ensure that effective training is provided in a timely manner.
Employers also need to redesign jobs to harness technology more effectively and make better use of their workers' upgraded skills, he added.
NTUC's company training committee model brings unions and employers together to develop concrete firm-level transformation plans, including the relevant training needed, so that workers can enjoy better wages, welfare and prospects, he said.
Such plans are then implemented with the support of the relevant government agencies, Mr Wong added. “NTUC would like to do more,” he said, adding that the model has proven to be effective.
The minister cited cleaning services firm Speco Singapore as an example of a company that has benefited from establishing a company training committee.
The firm shifted its operations to provide disinfection services by adopting technological solutions and its management worked with the Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union to form a company training committee to map out the training needed to reskill its workers.
One of its employees, Mr Shamsul Nurhakim, 22, joined the firm on a work-study programme and is now taking a diploma in applied science, sponsored by Speco, at Republic Polytechnic.
"Through the support of the (company training committee), he has acquired new skills and will be well positioned to excel in his career," Mr Wong said.
Beyond such committees, the authorities will continue to reach out to firms, especially smaller ones, through other means, such as partnering with industry leaders to provide training and advice to smaller companies, he added.
The authorities will also work closely with trade associations and chambers, and the Singapore Business Federation.
In a Facebook post on Friday (Feb 18), NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said the labour movement is encouraged by the support given by the Government.
“Helping our workers stay relevant will go a long way in protecting their livelihoods and allow them to better cope with cost of living,” he added.
Earlier this week, NTUC deputy secretary-general Heng Chee How emphasised the importance of scaling up company training committees, which he said are a "last-mile mechanism" to ensure training is done on a sustained and deliberate basis.
Warning about the risk of structural unemployment faced by older workers in industries that are likely to be affected by technological shifts and the move to a low-carbon economy, Mr Heng called on companies to be proactive in reskilling and upgrading their workers, and coming up with a proper plan to do so.