Industry panels to identify, boost key skills

Industry panels to identify, boost key skills

THE three-way partnership between the Government, unions and employers will be replicated at the industry level to help drive the national effort to boost skills among workers and productivity at firms.

Companies, together with government agencies and educational institutions, will put out tailored programmes in sectors such as finance and the marine industry to train workers and help them get ahead in their careers.

These industry committees will also identify skills of the future and help design training and education programmes for Singaporeans, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Speaking at the May Day Dinner last night, Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, said the global economy remained tepid and that Singapore could expect to grow by just 3 per cent on average a year for the next five years.

The path will be made more challenging by the fact that manpower resources will be scarce, with labour force growth likely to be flat from 2020 onwards.

One way to overcome this is to ensure that the country's manpower is equipped with the best skills to cope with the changing landscape through the new SkillsFuture initiative.

Under the move to form mini tripartite committees, a lead government agency will work with the relevant trade association and the labour unions to develop the programmes under SkillsFuture.

"Government, unions and businesses must come together to collaborate in new ways to identify the skills needed for the future, work with our tertiary educational institutions and training providers to design courses to equip Singaporeans with these skills, and make it convenient and fulfilling for everyone to learn at any age," Mr Tharman also said.

He cited some examples of how such committees can help workers and companies.

The Maritime and Port Authority is leading two task forces to draw up and implement career plans of workers in the marine sector.

In the financial services sector, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will jointly lead a committee to be set up in September to help companies cope with the changing job landscape in the sector.

"We have to make early investments in new technologies and innovations and skills, help individuals, help Singaporeans to acquire the new skill sets required for the financial sector jobs in the future. New skills will create new opportunities for us," said Mr Tharman.

Committees will also be set up for the air transport and hotel sectors, led by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Singapore Tourism Board respectively. Mr Robert Yap, president of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), said an immediate challenge is to organise industry associations into these committees, which are "less well-organised compared with unions".

The May Day Dinner at Orchid Country Club was attended by about 1,600 guests, including union leaders, company bosses and civil servants.

At the dinner, a total of 96 May Day awards were given by the NTUC to unionists, employers and government officials.

NTUC secretary-general Lim Swee Say presented the Distinguished Comrade of Labour award to former SNEF president Stephen Lee, who topped the annual May Day honours list this year.

This article was first published on April 30, 2015.
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