Course on tech at the workplace a boon for SMEs

Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung sitting in on a SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace course at the Lifelong Learning Institute yesterday.
Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung sitting in on a SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace course at the Lifelong Learning Institute yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

As recently as early this year, Mr Elton Pan was averse to selling furniture online.

Said the 44-year-old chief executive of Fullhouse Home Furnishings: "It can be quite challenging to change business practices, and workers are also uncomfortable with new demands."

But in the past few months, he realised that e-commerce is inevitable in retail, and sent his staff for the new SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme.

It is open to company owners like Mr Pan, as well as members of the public who want to keep up with technology trends at the workplace and in daily living.

The programme, lasting two days, is conducted by public and private training organisations and can be tailored to the needs of a company.

There are seven such training partners for now, including Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) and human resource solutions provider Capelle Academy.

Since the programme's pilot run in July, more than 330 people from 21 companies such as Maybank and Courts have been trained.

Ms Judy Goh, 44, who wanted to learn about technology trends in the food trade, took up the course by NYP's Asian Culinary Institute.

She is the office manager of a local enterprise, Montreux Patisserie, which makes pastries, desserts and breads.

The course opened her eyes to how technology can help firms, including small and medium-sized enterprises, be more productive.

Mr Pan's company, an SME that started in 2008, has seven furniture showrooms across Singapore. But by year end, it would have an online website as well for its products, which include sofas and beds.

He said: "Many people now use smartphones to shop, so we hope to attract them to our online platform and then our showrooms. When people buy furniture, they still want to feel and touch what they're buying."

More than 15 employees, including Mr Pan, attended a customised course by NYP's Institute of Retail Studies. It was done in two phases, one day each time. A second group of 30 will do a one-day course later this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2017, with the headline 'Course on tech at the workplace a boon for SMEs'. Print Edition | Subscribe