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A NEW Professional Conversion Programme rolled out at United Overseas Bank (UOB) on Monday is a good signal that the financial services sector is serious about upgrading staff skills in the face of change, Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said on Monday.
Such programmes help to minimise the risk of local banking staff being displaced by technology, while also helping the banks succeed in their transformation plans, she noted.
"The financial services sector remains an important part of our economy and 80 per cent of the PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) they hire are locals," she said.
"What we'd like to be able to do is through programmes like the PCP, help them retain a very strong Singaporean core even as they go through the process of transformation."
UOB's first PCP is a course on digital skills in areas such as design thinking, customer journey design, channel management and scenario analysis and planning. It was developed in collaboration with Workforce Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and The Institute of Banking and Finance.
Each course will be conducted through classroom learning, workshops and on-the-job training and will take between three and 12 months for the employees to complete.
UOB's 900 customer-facing employees from its network of branches islandwide will be enrolled in the PCP over the next 18 months.
"The PCP will supplement the programmes we have been running over the past three years to help our colleagues experience, understand and apply emerging technologies for our customers' benefit," said UOB's head of group channels and digitalisation Janet Young.
"Our branch colleagues will also be able to use their enhanced digital skills to help guide our customers to embrace the benefits that technology can add to their lives."
UOB will be holding more courses under the PCP to include areas such as risk management and wealth management for other functions in the bank in coming months.
The PCP has been gaining momentum and there are now 87 PCPs across 34 sectors, Minister Teo said.
Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah added that such programmes are important for the financial services sector here, which has to be at the forefront of developments in order for Singapore to stay ahead.
"You can see the technology wave is coming and it's transforming big things and also the small ways that people transact. The key is to make sure that people working in the financial sector are able to keep up with that. Employees themselves have to have a mindset of being open and not being afraid of it, and to embrace it."