New SkillsFuture scheme to help firms boost training

Participants at a robotic workshop at the Lifelong Learning Festival 2017 on Oct 28, 2017.
Participants at a robotic workshop at the Lifelong Learning Festival 2017 on Oct 28, 2017. PHOTO: IBM

It aims to better support businesses as they grow and expand overseas: Josephine Teo

Businesses will get help to make training a key part of their strategy under a new SkillsFuture scheme to be launched by the Manpower Ministry (MOM).

This scheme aims to better support companies in growing and expanding into overseas markets, new Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said yesterday in an addendum to the President's Address.

In response to queries, MOM said the initiative will help employers put in place human resource systems, structures and processes so that they can provide better training and development opportunities to their employees. More details about the initiative will be unveiled later this year.

The existing SkillsFuture programme provides resources, funding and courses to individual Singaporeans looking to deepen their skills in a wide variety of fields.

Labour MP Patrick Tay welcomed the news that more will be done to support and encourage companies to provide better training for their workers.

"Often, employers are so busy dealing with their daily operations that they don't have time to think about longer-term issues such as disruption to jobs and the need to train their workers for the future," he said. "So, any effort to prompt and encourage employers to take charge of training their workers would be good."

Aside from the new scheme, Mrs Teo said MOM will work towards having a more inclusive workforce, more progressive workplaces and providing workers with a greater sense of security in retirement.

She also urged businesses to play their part and transform.

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Often, employers are so busy dealing with their daily operations that they don't have time to think about longer-term issues such as disruption to jobs and the need to train their workers for the future. So, any effort to prompt and encourage employers to take charge of training their workers would be good.

LABOUR MP PATRICK TAY

To spur this transformation, MOM will work through economic agencies to provide selective flexibility in its foreign manpower policy to help businesses and industries meet short-term or emerging skills gaps, she said.

The ministry will also step up support for mid-career job seekers, the long-term unemployed, the self-employed and freelancers, she added.

Five other ministries and agencies released their addenda yesterday - the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Communications and Information, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and National Research Foundation.

The theme for their addenda was "A Vibrant Economy, Innovative and Full of Opportunities".

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said MTI will continue to invest in and ensure good physical and digital connectivity to the rest of the world.

"Through excellent physical and digital connectivity, we can add value to the flows of capital, goods and services, not only when they are conducted in or through Singapore, but even when trade takes place elsewhere," he said.

MTI will also provide support to enterprises for research and development and innovation so they can grow and transform themselves, Mr Chan added.

Meanwhile, MAS will ensure that consumer price inflation is kept low and provide a conducive economic environment for innovation and investment, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who oversees MAS.

MAS will also implement strategies to facilitate the growth of infrastructure financing, trade financing and enterprise financing to support the region's development, said Mr Tharman.

In the addendum for his ministry, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran said it will work to strengthen the infocomm, media and design sectors, and build a digitally ready society.

This includes implementing the national cyber-security strategy to strengthen the country's critical information infrastructure and develop its cyber-security capabilities.

National Research Foundation chairman Heng Swee Keat, meanwhile, said that the foundation will continue to drive Singapore's research, innovation and enterprise efforts to enhance economic competitiveness and provide greater opportunities for Singaporeans.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2018, with the headline 'New SkillsFuture scheme to help firms boost training'. Print Edition | Subscribe