New push to help trade groups upskill, better support businesses

(Clockwise, from left) SCCCI president Roland Ng, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, Nanyang Polytechnic chairman Tan Tong Hai, Nanyang Polytechnic senior director (industry and lifelong learning) Tan Jek Min and SCCCI secretary-general Lu Cheng Yang. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Singapore - A new initiative has been launched to help trade associations and chambers strengthen their core capabilities, build new and emerging competencies and upskill their employees.

This growth model and competency framework is spearheaded by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI), with the support of Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Business Federation and SkillsFuture Singapore. It is developed by Ernst & Young in consultation with over 30 trade associations and chambers (TACs) over a period of more than six months.

Speaking at the launch event at the Trade Association Hub on Thursday (Jan 13), Ms Low Yen Ling, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said: "Covid-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to the global business landscape. While companies are reconfiguring their business models to stay competitive and relevant, TACs play a key role in helping businesses overcome challenges and capture new opportunities."

She said the framework and resources are designed to help TACs identify the gaps and relevant skills required to better attract, retain, and develop the right talents. It will also help them gain new skills to further support the transformation and development of their member enterprises.

The growth model, she added, will also enhance the TACs and the key roles they play in supporting and developing enterprises in Singapore. She identified three key roles that the TACs play as they serve the business community during this crucial period of economic recovery - advocacy, collaboration and innovation.

SCCCI president Roland Ng hopes that the initiative can help TACs uplift and future-proof themselves to better support the local business community.

He said: "The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation and catalysed the need for rapid transformations across many industries. This poses new challenges for our TACs as there are now greater expectations from their members to help them transform, navigate through these disruptions and capture new opportunities."

The event also saw the signing of a collaboration agreement between SCCCI and Nanyang Polytechnic to develop training courses for TAC employees. This will help develop a pool of executives who are skilled in industry development, internationalisation, capability building and research. Two new courses that are unique to the TAC sector will be developed. The first batch of TAC executives is expected to start on the courses in the second quarter of this year.

A new skills advisory initiative for the TAC secretariat will also be developed. Led by SCCCI, in partnership with Enterprise Singapore, Singapore Business Federation and SkillsFuture Singapore, it will help the TAC secretariat acquire the relevant skills to help member companies keep up with changing business needs.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Ernie Koh, presidential adviser for the Singapore Furniture Industries Council and an SCCCI council member, said: "As a trade association, we find it useful that an apex body such as the SCCCI is helping to bring us together to upgrade ourselves. This is like a tripartite arrangement between the TACs under the SCCCI, the Government and Nanyang Polytechnic to help us better serve the business community."

Mr Thomas Pek, the immediate past president of the Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association and chairman of SCCCI's general affairs committee, told ST: "In the past two years, many businesses have really suffered because of the pandemic. This is a very important initiative backed by SCCCI, the Government and the education sector to help transform and uplift our members to navigate through these hard times."

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