A NEW class of companies could be formed to help Singaporeans develop deeper skills by coordinating apprenticeships and training across an industry, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.
In some countries, these middlemen design training schemes based on input from employers, and connect companies with potential hires as well as government agencies.
They also manage apprenticeships to ensure they are structured and of high quality, said Mr Tharman, who learnt about this model on a study trip with a SkillsFuture delegation to Switzerland and Sweden earlier this month.
"Even in these countries where you already have a very strong culture of employer ownership of people development, they have found it necessary to create intermediaries that work with employers to get this done," he said. These companies bid for public funds based on how many employers and workers they can get to join their programmes.
"It's an interesting business model and something which we can study further," he said, speaking to company representatives at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar.
More of such new approaches are needed to help smaller companies come on board the national push to develop more structured skills and career progression for workers, said Mr Tharman.
One problem that small and medium-sized enterprises face is in competing with larger companies, as fresh graduates tend to think promotions are slower in SMEs, said Ms Yvonne Lim, human resource manager at Bay Hotel and Resort, which employs 135 people.
She hopes that perception will change through career programmes at the hotel, which promotes employees who show progress after attending training.
"They can come back and be team leaders and can help the hotel implement more creative ideas and technology," she said.
The hotel is one of 50 companies, of which 34 are SMEs, that yesterday pledged to support the SkillsFuture initiative by recognising career progression based on skills and training, and promoting lifelong learning at the workplace.
The Singapore National Employers Federation and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency also signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a masterclass series on progressive human resource practices for top executives and HR practitioners.
This article was first published on May 21, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.