More upcoming initiatives to support SMEs

PHOTO: More upcoming initiatives to support SMEs

SINGAPORE - Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang announced today further details on initiatives to support SMEs - namely the Collaborative Industry Projects (CIP), SME Talent Programme (STP) and Market Readiness Assistance (MRA).

Both CIP and STP were announced at Budget 2013 as part of the recent SME Review.

Collaborative Industry Projects (CIP)

The CIP initiative seeks to help address key productivity challenges in various industries by facilitating partnerships between SMEs and solution providers to develop and test scalable productivity solutions.

Under the initiative, the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS) is issuing a Call for Collaboration to encourage food services companies to work with food manufacturers or suppliers to outsource preparation and production of food items which are not the core offerings on their menus.

Through such collaboration, restaurants can focus on producing speciality dishes and minimise food preparation at the outlets. This partnership also aims to bring about new business opportunities for food manufacturers and improve their scale of production.

RAS is working with Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association (SFMA) and Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) for this initiative.

In addition, other TACs - including Packaging Council of Singapore (PCS), Print and Media Association Singapore (PMAS), Singapore Logistics Association (SLA), Singapore Transport Association (STA) and Singapore Association for Private Education (SAPE) - will be working with SPRING to issue Calls-for-Collaboration to address specific productivity challenges in their industries.

SME Talent Programme (STP)

The SME Talent Programme (STP) is designed to help local SMEs attract good students from the polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs).

This is achieved by offering a study award covering tuition fees, allowance, a sign-on bonus with grant support of up to 70 per cent from SPRING and job opportunities upon graduation.

Six Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) have already stepped forward to partner SPRING in managing the STP for SMEs in their industries.

They are the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), Print and Media Association Singapore (PMAS), Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore (TaFf).

Appointed TACs will be the key managing agents for this talent programme where they will match candidates to SMEs.

They will also work closely with the Polytechnics and ITEs to profile SME careers and to choose the right talent. TACs will also select SMEs with good HR practices who will provide good jobs and meaningful careers for the students.

SPRING said its target is to support 3,000 students over the next five years.

Market Readiness Assistance (MRA)

For sustained growth, Singapore companies are also encouraged to plan for internationalisation as a means to grow and restructure.

To this end, the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) initiative serves as a broad-based suite of assistance to help companies grow by enhancing their capabilities and competitiveness through providing Information, learning avenues and financial assistance.

International Enterprise (IE) Singapore said it will continue to actively engage TACs as effective outreach partners to SMEs to tap into MRA.

The Export Strategy Workshop is one of the learning tools under MRA. For the first time, IE Singapore will engage the Institute of Business under the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry to share their expertise and develop the curriculum for one of the Workshops.

The details were revealed at today's Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) Forum attended by Mr Lim. The annual Forum saw five TACs receive their certificates of award for LEAD funding.

Under the LEAD programme, first time awardee, Singapore Association for Private Education (SAPE), will undertake initiatives to develop education innovation resources and a programme to train and certify specialists. These specialists will then help private education institutions better prepare for their EduTrust requirements.

The other four TACs are the Restaurant Association of Singapore (RAS), Singapore Business Federation (SBF), Singapore Food Manufacturers' Association (SFMA) and Singapore Logistics Association (SLA).

Launched in 2005, LEAD is jointly managed by IE Singapore and SPRING to enhance industry and enterprise competitiveness through TACs.

Including this year's new projects, the initiative would have supported 29 TACs on 43 industry-upgrading projects totalling $140 million, benefiting about 38,000 local enterprises.