At the launch of the SkillsFuture Festival 2019, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Education and Minister of Trade and Industry, Chee Hong Tat announced that starting 1st July 2019, companies in Singapore will be eligible for a S$10,000 subsidy provided by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) under the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG).
By making use of the subsidy capped at S$10,000 per organization, over and above existing government subsidies, eligible companies can now save up to 70 percent of their training expenses.
Given that SMEs constitute about 70 percent of the workforce but remain unable to invest in trainings like bigger corporations, the new subsidy aims to enhance capabilities of SMEs through worker trainings in order to make them competitive. In doing so the government is taking an effort to bridge the widening skills gap that is limiting the country's economic growth.
Focused on advancement of SMEs, SSG, experts from the industry, trade associations and unions are working together on constructing a concrete curriculum and learning programs to enable workplace learning, developing skills solutions and service delivery.
Speaking of allied forces Chee said "This is where intermediaries such as trade associations, banks, IT companies, and accounting firms can play a useful role. They know their SME customers well and understand these customers' business requirements, so they can provide tailored programs to help SMEs to digitalize and raise productivity."
SSG is also working with tech companies to create certified programs for specialized technologies and skills for workers across the country. One such training program is the IBM certified program in Artificial Intelligence. Taking inspiration from Swatch, a Switzerland based company, Chee said "We know cooperation and competition are not mutually exclusive - it is possible for companies to cooperate in certain areas while competing in other areas. In the area of training, such a model allows the industry as a whole to train and attract more workers for all companies. By growing the pie, there is more for everyone to share."
Another initiative by SSG towards building a skilled workforce is the launch of SkillsFuture Festival. This festival is a 6-week program that sees participation from over 250 industry, education and community partners offering over 350 learning activities across multiple venues including business hubs and educational institutions.
Singapore’s commitment towards building a capable workforce that is ready to handle what the future demands, is truly commendable. However, given the rapid pace at which technology keeps redefining itself, such government-led initiatives need to keep adapting to the changes in order to stand the test of time.