New scheme to help local firms close learning gaps

It will also recognise companies that have progressive workplace learning practices

Rail operator SMRT is among the first to apply for the new National Workplace Learning Certification. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A certification scheme aimed at helping local firms identify and close gaps in their workplace learning systems was launched yesterday, with rail operator SMRT among its first applicants.

The National Workplace Learning Certification, which was developed by the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (Nace), will recognise Singapore-based companies that put in place progressive workplace learning practices and capabilities.

This will, in turn, enhance workforce performance and improve worker retention rates, said Nace, which is led by Nanyang Polytechnic and supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

Launching the certification scheme at SMRT's Mandai Depot, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said it is no longer sufficient for firms to rely on formal training.

"We need to maximise the workplace as a significant place of learning, where workers continue to learn on the job, day in, day out."

Mr Wong, who is also Second Minister for Finance, added: "A successful workplace learning culture will not only help companies and employees keep up with changes, it will also position them, and Singapore as a whole, to thrive in a new post-Covid work environment, which is likely to be more unpredictable, turbulent and volatile."

Companies that apply for the new certification will be assessed on six components - strategy, leadership, planning, training needs analysis, environment, and implementation and processes.

This is based on a framework developed last year and takes reference from German and Swiss models for workplace learning.

Interested firms will be given free consultation to help them improve their workplace learning systems and work towards certification after an initial self-evaluation.

After a firm successfully applies for the certification, Nace, in partnership with the Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, will conduct site visits to assess the firm's workplace learning culture, capabilities and efforts.

The assessment will be reviewed and approved by a committee comprising industry leaders.

If the firm passes, it will receive one of four certification levels, which are valid for three to five years. Companies can apply for a higher level after two years.

SSG chief executive and Nace steering committee chairman, Mr Ong Tze-Ch'in, said the National Workplace Learning Certification can nudge companies to aim for a higher level of workplace learning.

It could also help small and medium-sized enterprises here attract talent by showing that there are good learning opportunities at these smaller firms as well, said Nace director Phua Chee Teck.

SMRT chief executive Neo Kian Hong said his firm works hard to ensure its staff are well trained and continually upgrade themselves so they can provide a safe and reliable public transport service.

In 2019, it started a comprehensive review of its training system, and has since created digital learning platforms to encourage self-directed learning and invested in immersive learning technologies.

The rail operator has also been working with Nace to implement various structures, programmes and certification to support its workplace learning efforts.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2021, with the headline New scheme to help local firms close learning gaps. Subscribe