New fund to help S'poreans master skills

New fund to help S'poreans master skills
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Ho Bee Land chairman Chua Thian Poh at the opening of The Metropolis yesterday. Behind them is an artwork by Taiwanese artist Ju Ming presented by Ho Bee Land to Mr Lee.

SINGAPOREANS keen to master new skills will be able to tap a new multi-million dollar fund for study awards, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

The Skills Future Jubilee Fund will focus on those who are already in the workforce and is aimed at encouraging "mastery in every skill and industry", Mr Lee told about 350 businessmen and community leaders.

"Besides having a businessfriendly infrastructure, to grow our economy, we must also equip our workers to compete globally," he said at the opening of The Metropolis, a new office building in Buona Vista developed by Ho Bee Land.

The fund has a target of $30 million, with hope that employers and unions will chip in as well.

Mr Lee said the Government will match donations to the Skills- Future fund dollar for dollar.

He also thanked Ho Bee Land chairman Chua Thian Poh for donating $5 million yesterday to kick-start the fund.

Mr Koh Juan Kiat, executive director of the Singapore National Employers Federation, told The Straits Times yesterday that the new fund would benefit bosses.

"Employers have a vested interest in encouraging their employees to master skills. Thirty million dollars will go a long way to support this and make a significant difference to industry."

However, he noted that details on how the fund will work have not been released yet.

The fund was set up by the SkillsFuture Council, which was established in September and is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. The council aims to develop an integrated system of education, training and progression for all Singaporeans.

A council spokesman told The Straits Times that the new fund will go towards supporting the council's efforts to ensure "a strong and continued emphasis on skills and multiple pathways to success" in Singapore.

More information will be provided at a later date, she said.

Ho Bee Land, which is known for developing luxury homes in the upmarket Sentosa Cove, began building The Metropolis in March 2011.

With 1.1 million sq ft of net lettable office space, the building is now the single biggest office development outside the central business district, Mr Chua said in a speech yesterday.

It is next to Buona Vista MRT station and connected to the researcha facilities at Biopolis.

Mr Lee noted yesterday that The Metropolis has attracted reputable multinational corporations as tenants, such as Boston Scientific, P&G, Neptune Orient Lines and General Electric, employing more than 9,000 people in all.

More innovative spaces and work environments to anchor major companies in Singapore and create good jobs for Singaporeans will be developed, he said.

To do this, the Government would work with the private sector, he said, noting that industry players have the expertise to provide high-quality developments that businesses and workers need. "If we continue to work together, businesses will prosper and workers will see their incomes rise," Mr Lee added.

melissat@sph.com.sg


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