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SINGAPORE BUDGET 2019

Singapore SMEs to get extra boost to send workers for training

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More help is on the way to encourage firms to send workers for training, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon during a visit to Singapore medtech manufacturing firm Racer Technology on Monday morning.

MORE help is on the way to encourage firms to send workers for training, said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon during a visit to Singapore medtech manufacturing firm Racer Technology on Monday morning. 

Noting that there are existing initiatives encouraging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to send workers for skills training, he added: "This is something that we want to do more in the upcoming Budget and Committee of Supply."

Dr Koh highlighted the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) Model Factory Initiative as an existing platform that has "headway to grow". Nevertheless, the government will also have new initiatives to encourage training, with "a degree of funding support as well", he said, adding that details will come in the Committee of Supply.

To date, 137 projects have been undertaken as part of the Model Factory Initiative, launched in October 2017. Racer Technology tapped the scheme to adopt advanced manufacturing and train its staff in related technologies. (see clarification note)

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The A*Star's solutions which Racer adopted were tailored to its needs, including a manufacturing operations management system that gives a real-time overview of production and allows for quick responses to unexpected events such as a machine breakdown or urgent customer orders. The firm also sent 15 employees for the Model Factory@A*Star Staff Training Module.

Dr Koh stressed the importance of digitisation, and research and development for SMEs in manufacturing to remain competitive both locally and globally.

"We see medtech as a growth sector so we want to encourage more SMEs to go into this space," he added. 

Apart from technology per se, training and skills upgrading is also a crucial component of transformation, said Dr Koh. He noted that since A*Star launched Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) courses in 2008, over 4,000 professionals, managers, executives and technicians from 1,500 companies have attended them.

Clarification note:

An earlier version of this article said Racer Technology is one of 137 firms to date that have tapped the Model Factory Initiative. A*Star has clarified that the figure refers to the number of projects undertaken, not the number of firms. The article above has been revised to reflect this.