SMU working with 8 firms to offer courses for mid-career PMEs under SGUnited Skills programme

Trainees will attend classes at SMU for six months, and get hands-on training at the participating firms for another three months. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Management University (SMU) will work with eight companies in the private sector to co-deliver courses for mid-careerists.

This is an initiative under the SGUnited Skills programme targeted at mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

The new partnership aims to meet the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. The participating companies will provide projects, mentorship and potential future employment opportunities for trainees.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the university, the eight industry partners and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) at a forum on Friday morning (July 17).

The initiative will equip experienced PMETs from different sectors with business management, digital and internationalisation skills, to help them switch to new careers and in roles such as business development executive and international relations specialist.

Some of the topics covered in the training include business and environmental sustainability, business innovation and digital transformation.

Trainees will attend classes at SMU for six months, and get hands-on training at the participating companies for another three months.

The forum on Friday, organised by SSG and supported by The Business Times and The Straits Times, was on how businesses and the workforce can be reshaped amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was held in a hybrid format, with a small number of participants present at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar, while others attended via teleconference.

The SGUnited Skills programme is meant for those looking to upgrade their skills while job hunting. It is a full-time training programme ranging from six to 12 months.

The certifiable courses will be delivered by continuing education and training centres, including polytechnics and the autonomous universities.

Course fees are heavily subsidised, with trainees also receiving a monthly allowance while undergoing training.

SSG said about 1,300 people have signed up for courses under this programme, with over 5,000 places still available across more than 100 courses.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who gave a speech before the forum on Friday, said: "We want to target groups that are more vulnerable, that need our help, need that six to 12 months re-tooling at this stage of their career, in this current situation... Mid-career, mature PMETs are one of the most vulnerable groups.

"The coming months will not be smooth sailing. Workers and companies will need to adjust, adapt, build new capabilities and seek out new opportunities."

Ms Novelle Lim, deputy chief executive of Thong Siek Food Industry, one of the eight firms participating in the programme with SMU, said her company is looking into digital marketing and data analytics.

"We actually get to discuss our needs with SMU...the programme covers a lot, mainly on digital technologies, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, digital marketing and data analytics. I think it's very powerful," she said.

Another company on the list is mining and trading company Top International Holding. Its chief executive Victor Tan said he hopes the programme will pave the way for more mid-career, experienced workers to join his relatively young team.

On the SkillsFuture Forum panel yesterday were (from left) SkillsFuture Singapore chief executive Ong Tze-Ch'in, Pan Pacific Hotels Group CEO Choe Peng Sum, HRnetGroup executive director and chief legal officer Adeline Sim, Ademco Security Group mana
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung speaking at the SkillsFuture Forum, which is part of this year's SkillsFuture Month, at the Lifelong Learning Institute. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

"We think it is a good time to attract PMETs to join small and medium enterprises. In normal times, they tend to focus more on multinational corporations," he said.

"The average age of employees in my company is about 30 to 35. So I'm hoping that the experienced PMETs who join us will share their wisdom with the energetic young team we have."

The forum is part of this year's SkillsFuture Month, which starts today and runs till Aug 16.

A series of mostly virtual events will be organised to cater to Singaporeans at different stages of their career and life. There will be training opportunities for job seekers, especially those in mid-career, who have been affected by the economic impact of Covid-19.

Organised by SSG and various partners, SkillsFuture Month 2020 supports the efforts of the National Jobs Council.

More than 80 community, education and industry partners are participating in this year's SkillsFuture Month, which is expected to reach out to more than 15,000 learners.

SSG and its partners have lined up a series of events that are specially designed to meet the needs of different workforce segments. These include live webinars, online classes and workshops, as well as virtual exhibitions.

Mr Ong Tze-Ch'in, chief executive of SSG, said: "I hope that the series of SkillsFuture Month activities, both virtual and physical, will allow more Singaporeans to discover new opportunities, explore available resources and continue their individual lifelong learning journeys, even amid these challenging times."

Launched in 2015, the SkillsFuture national movement aims to provide Singaporeans with opportunities for lifelong learning.

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