New career conversion programme to re-skill 280 PMETs for Singapore’s furniture industry

Renald Yeo
Published Thu, Feb 2, 2023 · 02:54 PM

A NEW scheme aims to re-skill up to 280 mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) for jobs in Singapore’s furniture industry by September 2024, with salary support provided to employers.

Managed by the Singapore Furniture Industries Council (SFIC) Institute, the career conversion programme (CCP) is open to new hires as well as existing employees in furniture companies. Job functions covered include digital marketing, e-commerce and sustainability-related roles.

Under the scheme, Workforce Singapore will fund up to 70 per cent of the monthly salary of participants – capped at S$4,000 a month – during a six-month on-the-job training phase.

At its launch on Thursday (Feb 2), Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Desmond Tan, who was guest-of-honour, said that Singapore’s furniture sector has “done well” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Retail sales of household equipment and furniture grew 20 per cent in 2021 from the year before, due in part to more people purchasing furniture when working from home during Covid-era restrictions, he noted.

But even as business boomed, manpower woes came to the fore. Covid-19 has taught some “important lessons”, Tan said, noting that many foreign workers returned to their home countries during the pandemic. “We had to rely on Singaporeans to do those jobs.”

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The CCP, which is open to Singapore citizens and permanent residents, is thus part of efforts to build up local manpower for the industry. It is the latest in a series of CCPs that the SFIC Institute has rolled out for the furniture industry since 2020, Tan said, with more than 250 workers from some 160 companies having participated.

Adrian Lo, founder of soundproofing specialist Soundzipper, noted that schemes like the CCP allow businesses to “de-risk” when hiring, as they do not always know whether a new employee will do well.

Comparing it to a “platform of exploration”, he said: “(The) CCP has allowed me to really find those people that are willing to go through a programme, get them on the right footing, and then go on to become really successful in the company.”

Lo was speaking as part of a dialogue panel alongside Tan, SFIC president Phua Boon Huat, and SFIC vice-president Steven Chew.

At the event, Tan also officiated the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between SFIC and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). The MOU will see SFIC and ITE collaborate on providing opportunities in the furniture sector, such as internships, to ITE students.


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