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Singapore Launches The ‘Skillsfuture Mentors Program’ For Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises

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Open Eyes Opinion {source: SGgov}











Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you today for the launch of the SkillsFuture Mentors Program.

The role of SMEs in the future economy

  We operate in a challenging economic environment. Global growth is moderating and, domestically, we face the pressures of an aging population and slowing workforce growth. Our businesses must address these immediate challenges, but we also need to think about how to ensure competitiveness and sustainability for the future.

 The ‘Committee for the Future Economy’ will be embarking on a process to think about these issues and what they mean for the future of our economy. In particular, we must understand and prepare for technological changes, disruptive business models, and the emergence of new sectors and markets, and their implications for jobs, skills and businesses. Ultimately, we want to build a robust and diverse corporate ecosystem, with deep linkages and shared capabilities across SMEs, LLEs and MNCs, which creates good jobs and opportunities in different economic sectors.

We know that the nature of jobs is changing profoundly, as technology and automation play an increasing role in driving innovation and operations.Consequently, the skillsets of our workforce will have to be updated in order to stay relevant to the needs of the market. Some jobs will be transformed, others will be created, and yet others will become obsolete.To strengthen our companies and our workforce in preparation for the future economy, the government is committed to a tripartite approach, by working with businesses, trade associations, unions and other stakeholders.

Today, our SMEs account for about half of our economy and about 70 per cent of our workforce and they will undoubtedly continue to play a key role in a vibrant future economy.But to seize the opportunities that lie ahead, our SMEs will need to adapt to evolving changes, find a distinctive market niche, and develop their competitive advantage through deep capabilities. 

Building capabilities in learning and development

The quality and skills of our people is fundamental to such competitive advantage and capability.To support a thriving and diverse ecosystem of competitive enterprises, we need to help companies gain access to the requisite talent, and develop the capabilities and systems to groom and grow their talent pool.

Research conducted by Stanford University Professor Carol Dweck shows that employees in companies with a growth mindset, are about a third more likely to feel a strong sense of commitment compared to employees in more sedentary companies.[1] Among the reasons for this were that these companies valued their employees’ potential, capacity, and their passion for learning, and tended to promote from within.

 Closer to home, Hock Lian Huat Foodstuff Industry is one example of an SME with such a mindset. Recognizing some gaps in their learning and development systems, Hock Lian Huat Foodstuff engaged an HR expert to help develop its HR processes in an effort to provide meaningful careers for its employees. The HR expert provided advice and insights to line managers on how to engage new hires and interns; it was an effort which has paid off. I am pleased to hear that having benefited from her experience as an intern, Mei Hui joined the company as an Assistant R&D manager after graduation. Enhanced talent retention and employee satisfaction are just two of many positive outcomes that accrue to a company when it focuses on people development.

Launch of SkillsFuture Mentors Program to Strengthen Workplace Learning in SMEs

On our part, the government will do its best to support companies’ efforts in this respect. In November 2014, we embarked on SkillsFuture, a national movement to develop the skills and passions of our workforce to drive Singapore’s next phase of development towards an advanced economy and inclusive society.

Today’s launch of the SkillsFuture Mentors Program will further support SMEs in developing their workforce, and strengthening their learning and development capabilities for business growth. The SkillsFuture Mentors will help SMEs foster a better learning environment to support their participation in SkillsFuture initiatives such as the Earn and Learn Program and the SkillsFuture Enhanced Internships.

The SkillsFuture Mentors also bring with them a wealth of experience built up over the course of their careers.Their deep knowledge of industry practices and experience in workplace learning and development mean that they are well-placed to provide valuable insights into capability upgrading for our SMEs.  Mentors will be deployed to support SMEs over a nine-month period, during which they will study the enterprise’s learning and development systems, and make recommendations for improvement. They will also assist with the review and enhancement of SMEs’ internship or On-the-Job (OJT) training plans, and help guide company supervisors and managers in training delivery.

Today, I am pleased to announce that we will be starting off with a pilot pool of 18 mentors. These mentors have undergone an orientation programme designed by Republic Polytechnic, and will continue their own learning and upgrading through a mentoring community. We will also be working with 16 SMEs, who have committed to upgrade their learning and development capabilities through this program. Over the next three years, we aim to increase the scale of the program by recruiting about 400 mentors to support 2,000 SMEs.

Call for SMEs and Mentors to Commit to SkillsFuture Mentors Program

I would like to welcome all those with a passion for training, development and mentoring, to consider becoming SkillsFuture Mentors.It is a unique opportunity for you to marshall your experience and expertise to contribute in a different capacity, and your commitment and contribution will help reinforce our SMEs’ reputation as employers of choice.

I would like to thank all of you for your commitment to the SkillsFuture Mentors Program, and I wish you a fruitful morning ahead.

[1] Harvard Business Review, “How Companies can profit from a growth mindset,”, (November 2014 issue)

{source: Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry}


[photo credits: “Mosque Street shophouses” by Terence Ong – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –]



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