Free training programme by Google, UOB to help SMEs transform digitally, expand overseas

Google and UOB said the programme will take in cohorts in every quarter until the end of 2020, with each cohort capped at 50 participants. As many as 400 SME leaders are expected to benefit.
Google and UOB said the programme will take in cohorts in every quarter until the end of 2020, with each cohort capped at 50 participants. As many as 400 SME leaders are expected to benefit.PHOTOS: REUTERS, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As many as 400 leaders in small and medium-sized enterprises will get to go through a free new training programme from Google and United Overseas Bank by the end of next year to transform digitally and expand overseas, in a move to help them seize opportunities in the digital economy.

The SME Leadership Academy, supported by government agencies Digital Industry Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore, will be a three-day programme consisting of interactive discussions and lessons by business leaders from Google, UOB and other organisations.

 It will be held at the Google office at the Mapletree Business City II in Pasir Panjang.

In a joint statement, Google and UOB said the programme will take in cohorts in every quarter until the end of 2020.

Its first cohort will start on Aug 13, and interested parties can sign up for this programme online. Each cohort is capped at 50 participants.

Ms Stephanie Davis, managing director of Google South-east Asia, said: "SMEs are the bedrock of Singapore's economy, and helping them succeed is paramount to building a bright future in the digital economy.

"Through the SME Leadership Academy, we are equipping business leaders with the knowledge, tools and connections to help them adapt to the changing markets and customer needs and grow profitably."

The programme, which was launched by Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Aug 5), was developed based on feedback from more than 100 SMEs across various industries that include retail, engineering, manufacturing and travel.

These SMEs also went through pilot batches of the programme, and identified the top three obstacles for SMEs in the digital economy.

 
 
 

These are internal hurdles such as not having effective digitalisation strategies, a lack of talent with sufficient digital know-how, and capacity and resource constraints.

According to Google and UOB, SMEs which go through this programme will learn how to generate digital marketing strategies, how to implement data-driven HR solutions and how to use other kinds of software to boost their efficiency.

In 2016, a study by market research firm Oxford Economics and telecommunications company Huawei estimated that the size of the global digital economy amounted to about US$11.5 trillion (S$15.9 trillion) or over 15 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Singapore's Digital Economy Framework for Action has shared an estimate that the digital economy would contribute an additional US$10 billion to its GDP
 by 2021.

Mr Frederick Chin, head of group wholesale banking and markets at UOB, said technology is a critical enabler for companies large and small, and that the programme hopes to help SMEs reap its benefits.

He said: "Through the SME Leadership Academy, we hope that SMEs will be able to gain the necessary skills and expertise to use technology to improve their performance and to provide a better customer experience."