In Parliament yesterday (March 4), Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat said that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore will get more financial support in training their employees.
Under a new Productivity Solutions Grant (SkillsFuture Training Subsidy), each firm will be awarded up to $10,000 to cover 70 per cent of out-of-pocket training expenses.
Coupled with existing SkillsFuture course fee subsidies of up to 90 per cent, the cost of sending an employee for a $2,000 training course will now cost only $60.
To date, SkillsFuture Singapore has rolled out Skills Frameworks across 27 sectors, which map out the career pathways and the existing and emerging skills required.
Singapore firms can use the new subsidy for training that is aligned with their industry’s Skills Framework.
I have asked MTI and MOE colleagues to keep the application process simple, so that more companies can benefit from PSG and the training subsidy.
Training And Skills Upgrading “Critical”
Mr Chee also said that training and skills upgrading are “critical elements” of future-proofing a business, hence it is imperative for employers to recognise and reward workers who climb the skills ladder.
“I urge employers to recognise and support skills-based hiring. … Lifelong learning needs to be part of our cultural DNA,” he added.
Efforts to bolster this has seen positive progress so far. He cited that about 465,000 Singaporeans have taken part in SkillsFuture programmes, and 96 per cent of SkillsFuture Credit claims were for work-related courses.
“We have been tracking the progress of SkillsFuture since its launch in 2015. I am glad to report that training participation rates have increased from 35 per cent in 2015 to 48 per cent in 2018,” Mr Chee said.
We are also seeing encouraging training outcomes. From a survey of 3,500 learners who attended work-related training in 2018, more than 80 per cent said they were able to perform better at work six months after the training.
Lower Compliance Costs For Training Providers
Mr Chee also said that SSG will be making some changes later this year to reduce compliance costs for training providers and make it more convenient for them to seek regulatory approvals.
First, the number of regulatory fees for private education institutions will be cut down from nine to three, with an annual cost saving of $380 to $640 for each provider.
SSG will simplify the licensing process for providers who offer both WSQ and private education programmes. It will also reduce the cost incurred by WSQ training providers in issuing e-certificates, an effort since 2014.
Mr Chee said that so far, the certificate fee has gone down from $2.60 to $1.20. He added that SSG will further reduce this, and savings can be passed down to training providers and students.
Emphasising the need for companies to prioritise worker training, Mr Chee said: “As companies restructure and transform with technology, they should also build capabilities in their workers to help them move up the value chain.
Transformation must be ‘technology driven, people led’.
“Using technology alone is not adequate if the workers are not trained to optimise these tools. If we do it well, enterprise transformation should result in higher profits for the company and higher pay for our workers – a win-win outcome.”
Featured Image Credit: SSI