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1,300 people have signed up for SGUnited Skills Programme to date

ABOUT 1,300 people so far have signed up for the more than 6,500 training places available under the SGUnited Skills Programme, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Friday.

The training places span over 113 courses offered by 13 training providers, he added. Mr Ong was speaking at a SkillsFuture forum on Friday, where he launched this year's SkillsFuture Month.

The SGUnited Skills Programme is part of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package announced in May to support up to 100,000 job seekers amid the coronavirus pandemic, by way of job vacancies, traineeships, and training opportunities.

The training programmes are heavily subsidised and offer trainees a monthly allowance while they undergo training over six to 12 months. The courses are offered in sectors such as infocomm and media, advanced manufacturing, financial services, as well as healthcare and community care.

"The coming months will not be smooth-sailing. Workers and companies will need to adjust, adapt, build new capabilities and seek out new opportunities," Mr Ong said. "The government will do our best to support your effort, by helping affected workers as much as we can."

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The offerings will be built up further in the coming months, he added.

A new programme, SMU SGUnited Business and Digital Transformation Programme, was also launched at the sidelines of the forum on Friday. It is the result of partnership between SkillsFuture Singapore, the Singapore Management University, and eight industry leaders from various sectors.

The eight are Enterprise 50 Association, Prudential Singapore, Sunray Woodcraft Construction, PBA Robotics, Top International, Goldbell Group, Thong Siek Food Industry and Commonwealth Capital.

The programme will comprise training, industry mentorship, and real-life business projects from the sponsoring companies.

Mr Ong called on employers to "keep an open mind" in their selection of candidates for training, by targeting groups that are vulnerable and need the "retooling", instead of those that would typically have no difficulty securing jobs.

"When we have all these skills programmes, the tendency is always for us to set high standards - nothing wrong with that - and be stringent in the selection of trainees... but this is, maybe, a peacetime mode of operation," Mr Ong said.

Some of the most vulnerable now are mid-career, mature professionals, managers and executives, he added. 

Noting that there is “no obligation” for the companies to hire trainees after the programmes, Mr Ong urged employers to select those who need help, for the policy to be "executed right". 

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