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SMEs to get more training funds, information access
Teh Shi Ning
Tue, Jun 01, 2010
The Business Times

(SINGAPORE) To help them start their 'productivity journeys', small and medium-sized enterprises will get higher rates of funding for related training and easier access to information resources.

Speaking to over 800 business leaders at the Singapore Business Awards last night, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced a new guide to 'assist SMEs on their productivity journey'.

This came as he cautioned business leaders not to let the short-term productivity gains that will come with this year's recovery 'lull us into thinking' that the 'multi-year, multi-sector decline' in productivity has been resolved.

'We need to move beyond improving efficiency and volume to growing the top line', said Mr Teo, who also chairs the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council steering Singapore's productivity drive. And the 'real impediments' need to be uncovered by drilling down to individual sectors 'to see how business models, operations and management practices' can best help firms become more productive in their respective industries, he said.

SMEs make up 99 per cent of enterprises in Singapore, employ 60 per cent of the workforce and generate about half of all businesses' value-added. But, the average annual value-added from SMEs of $79,000 per worker, trails behind the overall average of $88,000 per worker.

The SME Productivity Roadmap (SME-PRO) Mr Teo announced last night, is put together by Spring Singapore and the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and lays out three steps to boost productivity: 'Be Aware, Get Trained, and Take Action'.

With this, WDA is working with industry groups on productivity programmes to train workers and managers. For some WDA supported schemes, such as courses run by the Singapore Productivity Association, SMEs will enjoy a higher funding rate of 70 per cent, compared to the 50 per cent offered to large companies.

From today, Spring's existing EnterpriseOne website will also have a new Productivity@Work portal for businesses to access information on government assistance schemes, self-help resources and case studies. It also has an online productivity calculator for them to benchmark themselves against industry levels.

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