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UOB to help SMEs secure talent through understudy programme for SMU undergrads

UNITED Overseas Bank (UOB) announced on Tuesday a new initiative to help Singapore's small businesses secure promising young talent.

This will take place through the Entrepreneur Shadow Programme run by the UOB-SMU Asian Enterprise Institute (AEI), where undergraduates in their final two years at the Singapore Management University (SMU) will have the opportunity to understudy small business owners and experience first-hand what it takes to run a business.

The programme, which is open to all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), aims to provide students with the experience and knowledge of working at an SME and hopefully make it their career choice. This would in turn help secure the talent that small businesses need, said UOB.

UOB also cited an earlier survey which revealed that more than half of SME leaders have difficulty hiring young talent as most graduates do not consider joining a small business as the first step in their career.

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Mervyn Koh, managing director and head of business banking Singapore, UOB, said that young graduates may not realise that there are benefits to be gained when working at an SME.

"By engaging young talent, small businesses will also have fresh perspectives on how to improve their operations for growth," he said.

Small businesses participating in the programme must first identify a specific outcome they would like to achieve, such as exploring new revenue streams, redesigning existing business processes or increasing their productivity through digital technology. Business owners are then matched with students who possess the required knowledge, experience and skillsets.

Fire protection services firm Fitterlab Engineering was the first to benefit from the Entrepreneur Shadow Programme.

Joe Yee, CEO of Fitterlab, said that he would "strongly encourage" other small businesses to sign up for the programme.

He said: "Through their feedback and ideas, I gained fresh perspectives and new ideas on how to improve our processes to become more nimble and flexible."

The Entrepreneur Shadow Programme is the latest addition to AEI's range of initiatives for SMEs. The institute's flagship SME Consulting Programme, where SMU students embark on business consultancy projects initiated by local enterprises to help enhance their businesses, has helped more than 350 SMEs since it was launched in 2005.

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