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Singtel to spend S$45m over next 3 years to enhance staff's digital skills

[SINGAPORE] Local telecommunications giant Singtel will invest S$45 million over the next three years in organising training programmes for its workers to deepen their skills and knowledge in order to fuel the digital economy, it announced on Thursday.

These programmes will include workshops and courses that it will hold at its new four-storey Singtel@8George office, located at Pickering Street in the Central Business District, which it officially opened on Thursday.

In a statement, Singtel said the programmes that will come from this investment will also help its 12,600 local employees create their own skill pathways and transform their roles to suit the digital economy's changing needs.

Singtel's group chief human resources officer Aileen Tan said the programmes will include those that encourage its employees to "embrace continuous learning and actively manage their professional development in anticipation of longer career spans".

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She added: "This will ensure we have an agile, future-ready workforce that can meet the demands of the new economy."

Singtel@8George, located on the site of the former City Exchange which was one of Singapore's earliest telephone exchanges, has classrooms, training facilities and interactive spaces for its staff to carry out activities such as training, team building workshops, townhalls and hackathons.

On Thursday, Singtel signed a memorandum of understanding with the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore (UTES) to form a committee that will be in charge of organising these training programmes, which it has dubbed the Accelerate, Co-create and Transform, or ACT, initiative.

Mr Ng Chee Meng, secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, who witnessed the signing, said he was encouraged by Singtel's efforts to partner the labour movement to help its workers learn new and different skills.

Singtel said that an example of how its workers will be using the ACT initiative would be in the case of how it trains its network engineers.

It said that some of these engineers will go through a "4G to 5G Pathways" course, to prepare them for the imminent roll-out of 5G connectivity by equipping them with new skills.

5G connectivity, which will be rolled out in Singapore next year, will result in faster mobile data speeds, eventually up to 100 times quicker than current speeds. This will allow for greater automation of tasks and digital connectivity, driving a new wave of productivity gains for some industries.

For instance, analyst firm IHS Markit estimated that 5G will drive an extra US$12 trillion of annual sales in 2035.

UTES general secretary Thuvinder Singh said: "Technology may advance at an unrelenting pace, but as long as employees, union and management keep a positive mindset and embrace change, we can progress and thrive in this transformation journey."

THE STRAITS TIMES