SINGAPORE - Operations executive Matthew Peh, 30, wants to keep pace with the cutting-edge technology being used at his company ST Logistics, but was looking to do so without having to stop work.
He signed up as soon as he could when the firm said it was starting a new IT skills course for workers.
His plans to upgrade his skills were given a further boost when ST Logistics on Tuesday (Feb 22) announced a new incentive scheme to encourage workers to pick up technical and digital skills.
From next month, ST Logistics employees can get a monthly skills allowance of up to 6 per cent of their salary when they complete required courses and demonstrate the skills learnt in project implementation.
ST Logistics announced the new scheme, a first for the company, at Tuesday's event at its Pioneer Road headquarters. The firm expects to spend a total of $1.7 million a year on the skills allowances.
About 770 of ST Logistics' 1,100 employees, including executives and non-executives, will benefit from the scheme. The firm, which has a close to all-Singaporean workforce, handles government logistics at a combined annual spend of more than $400 million.
The company's efforts to boost training include a skills map for each employee that tracks 36 skills from SkillsFuture frameworks, which workers can pick up in courses.
Examples of courses include digital workplace skills, robotic process automation and Microsoft Power Platform.
At Tuesday's event, ST Logistics also signed four memorandums of understanding with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (Nace) led by Nanyang Polytechnic, NTUC LearningHub and the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Students of SIT and NUS will get internship and job opportunities through final-year projects, recruitment and the SIT Integrated Work Study Programme..
ST Logistics will work with SIT to develop a curriculum to prepare students for the digital supply chain industry, and partner with Nace to promote a certification scheme aimed at helping local firms identify and close gaps in their workplace learning systems.
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who was guest of honour at Tuesday's event, said in a speech that lifelong learning is not just about fulfilling a job requirement, but also about leading fulfilling lives and adding value to workers and the company.
"There is a larger purpose behind all that we are doing. The ultimate goal of what we want to see in our continuous learning journey is not just economic gains, but personal growth that gives our people a sense of accomplishment, fulfilment and contribution."
He also touched on five key points on career guidance and curriculum in schools, as well as continuous learning at work.
One, he raised the importance of career guidance for students to discover their strengths and interests. "The best career counselling and guidance does not necessarily come from just schools, teachers and lecturers," he said.
"The most powerful career guidance comes from people in the industry, and I hope that our industry leaders will partner our schools, polytechnics, ITE (Institute of Technical Education), talk to our students and let them know the opportunities in the sectors."
Two, he urged schools to work with industries to keep the curriculum up to date, and to equip students with emerging skills from internships and industry exposure.
He cited Republic Polytechnic, which sent its lecturer on a five-month attachment to a deep-tech start-up company that specialises in healthcare Internet of Things (IoT). The lecturer applied his expertise during the attachment and took what he learnt back to his students, Mr Chan said.
"When companies come on board to train our students and faculty, you have access to the talent pool, because the lecturers and the faculty will be your best salesmen to recruit the next generation of workers," he added.
Three, he emphasised continual learning through work, giving the example of the ITE. The institute recently launched its work-study diploma in e-commerce and retail, co-designed with Cold Storage Singapore, which comes with workplace experience in the retail industry.
Four, he stressed the role of institutes of higher learning as partners in workplace learning and transformation, pointing to ST Logistics' efforts to create new courses for workers as the business process evolves.
"If we can embrace this model of learning, then I am sure our workers will find it relevant to participate in these courses, and companies will find it meaningful to help our workers gain the new knowledge - this is mutually beneficial."
Five, he called on companies to make learning accessible for adult learners. He cited ST Logistics' skills map for employees. "They are not only training for today's jobs and tasks, but also equipping workers with a bit of surplus skills that they can use to pivot and take on new jobs, whether in the absence of co-workers or when the company transforms."
ST Logistics chief executive Loganathan Ramasamy said at the event that the firm realises the value of enabling and encouraging employees to take charge of their learning journey.
"We believe that sustainable learning journeys will not only strengthen our employees' careers in the company, but also benefit them outside the workplace in their personal life," he said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mentioned the SIT Work-Study Programme. SIT has since clarified that it should be the SIT Integrated Work Study Programme.