Revamped career conversion programme gives financial support to retailers to train new hires too

Participating retailers will receive up to 90 per cent of salary support for up to six months from Workforce Singapore. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE – A programme for retail employees to be trained in redesigned roles has been expanded to include new hires, with employers receiving financial support for these workers’ salaries during training.

The revamped Career Conversion Programme for Retail Industry will help employers to reskill existing employees or train new hires to take on redesigned roles in areas such as e-commerce, branding, data and artificial intelligence. Participating retailers will receive up to 90 per cent of salary support for up to six months from Workforce Singapore.

Only existing employees could be enrolled in this programme when it was launched in 2020.

Also, employers can customise their own on-the-job training for new hires or existing staff, instead of requiring the employees to attend classroom sessions and on-the-job training previously.

This expanded programme is expected to benefit 250 retail employees, said Workforce Singapore.

Details of the revamped programme were revealed at the Singapore Retail Industry Conference and Exhibition 2022 on Tuesday, as the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) was unveiled as Workforce Singapore’s programme partner for the revamped programme.

SRA treasurer Pang Fu Wei said its appointment is a welcome addition to the resources that it can provide to members, as they embrace the updated industry transformation map (ITM) for the retail sector.

In October, Enterprise Singapore unveiled the updated Retail ITM 2025, with a focus on areas such as helping home-grown brands go abroad, encouraging new experiential concepts and grooming local talent for quality jobs.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, who was at the event at Huone Events Hotel on Tuesday, said: “We must make retail a meaningful career that offers good progression prospects, in order to retain existing employees, deepen skills and expertise, and maximise the potential of Singapore’s retail workforce.” 

The Government will help retailers redesign and enhance job roles, and equip their employees with new and emerging skills, he added.

Through the revamped programme, new staff will be placed under on-the-job training for between three and six months, while existing staff will be placed for up to three months.

Mr Zaqy added that the Government hopes the retail industry will actively tap the revamped programme to equip new and existing employees with in-demand skills, and build a future-ready workforce. 

Meanwhile, retailers can also expect to have more training programmes featuring consultancy and technology, following the formalising of a new partnership at the event. SRA is tying up with five skills development partners – Baozun Asia, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore Institute of Retail Studies, Terra Systems and VE Capital Asia.

Another MOU was signed between SRA and 21 retailers to support the skills transformation of their staff to meet the new demands of the industry and manpower challenges.

Among the firms is Eu Yan Sang Singapore, which aims to improve customer-fronting staff’s skills. 

It will look at the employees’ existing level of knowledge, experience and aptitude before deciding on which area to reskill or upskill, said Ms Rachel Cheng, its managing director.

As at December 2021, the retail sector employs about 116,000 people.

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