Thursday, 12 October 2017

Capability Transfer Programme: Foreign trainers to help impart expertise

Companies can tap new MOM scheme to help local workers learn from overseas experts
New govt programme will subsidise cost of bringing them in to train local workers
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 11 Oct 2017

Singapore food manufacturers want to learn more about high-pressure processing to extend the shelf life of their products, while a furnishing firm wants to break into the healthcare interior furnishing market.

But such expertise is scarce here, a shortage the Government hopes to address with a new funding scheme.

Called the Capability Transfer Programme, it will subsidise the cost of bringing in trainers from abroad to arm local workers with skills and knowledge of new technology. The scheme will also help fund the salaries of both trainers and trainees.

Companies can get from 30 per cent to as much as 90 per cent of the cost of introducing such training.

More support will be provided to projects by small and medium-sized enterprises and those that benefit industries as a whole rather than a single company, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday when he announced a pilot run of the programme.

This latest move is part of an ongoing national effort to upgrade the skills of the local workforce, strengthen its "Singaporean core'' and enhance how local and foreign workers complement, rather than compete with, one another. Also, in the new world of rapid technological innovations, Singapore has to compete not just on cost, but also in new and better capabilities, Mr Lim said.

"It is simply not possible for any economy, corporation and workforce to try to be self-sufficient in the fast-changing world of technology, innovation and global competition. So, we have to build new capabilities that will be in great demand in the future but are currently lacking or in short supply here."

It has to be done as quickly as possible, he added, speaking to about 200 company officials at a seminar on developing human capital.

This is critical to Singapore's future growth, especially since the expansion of its working-age resident population is projected to stagnate before the end of this decade, a slowdown from the 1.3 per cent annualised growth from 2005 to 2015.

He also said the scheme will support on-the-job training done overseas as well as co-fund up to 70 per cent of the cost of equipment for better work processes.

Applications for it will be assessed on a case-by-case basis during the pilot run, taking into account the skill gaps and how useful is the transfer of expertise to the individual company and the industry as a whole, he said.

To ensure companies do not use the programme to just hire more foreign workers, they will have to provide a specific plan listing the type of expertise they are bringing in, who the local recipients are, the training timeline and desired outcome, Mr Lim told reporters.

At the event, he presented certificates to 56 employers who recently joined the Human Capital Partnership programme, bringing the total membership to 130.

The programme, launched last year, aims to grow a community of employers committed to developing their staff, especially the local workers. The bosses' firms receive benefits like being put on the fast track when applying for foreign worker passes and grants.

One group that Mr Lim foresees benefiting from overseas know-how is motor workshops.

The president of the Singapore Motor Workshop Association, Mr Francis Lim, said he wants to use the new programme to fly in experts from Germany or the United States to run an introductory course on hybrid vehicles for most of the 15,000 mechanics here, as well as to pass on their knowledge to local trainers.

"The majority of technicians here are not trained or equipped to deal with high-voltage vehicles, and it can be dangerous for them," he said.

"With the recent hype surrounding electric cars, we want to make them more aware of the new technology."

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