May Day Rally

Cleaning company stepping up training for digital era

As a worker in a cleaning company, Mr Nicholas Teo hopes his firm's investments in new equipment and its retraining of staff can help make cleaning less labour-intensive, as well as improve job prospects in the industry.

The 51-year-old senior operations manager is a member of Chye Thiam Maintenance's new company training committee - set up by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to take training beyond broad, national strategies to the company level. NTUC plans to set up 1,000 such committees over the next three years, to help around 330,000 workers.

Chye Thiam deputy director Frankie Yung said having such a committee can improve the firm's existing training programme for staff.

"One of the first things we want to embark on is the SkillsFuture for the Digital Workplace," he said, referring to a national initiative to equip Singaporeans with the mindset and basic skills for the future economy. "Supporting partners such as NTUC's Employment and Employability Institute can help us to co-create this programme, so it can be tailored to the needs of cleaners, who may have lower literacy levels."

Mr Yung added that the aim is also to have the company training committee benefit workers ranging from rank-and-file to management level.

The company - which has 1,600 or so workers - is facing challenges in hiring and retaining talent.

It overcomes these difficulties by investing heavily in equipment, innovation and training.

"As our cleaner workforce gets older, automation helps," said Mr Teo, who added that older workers have less strength for physical tasks like sweeping long stretches of road. "When we train them to use equipment, their working lifespan will grow."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2019, with the headline 'Cleaning company stepping up training for digital era'. Print Edition | Subscribe