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Hiring and retaining talent are the top challenges for SMEs in Singapore

A recent poll by DBS has revealed 26.5% of 150 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) surveyed in Singapore currently grapple with manpower issues.

Further, 21.5% face high operational costs while 21% face challenges in growing their business revenue in the current economic environment.

According to a press release, eight in 10 (80%) of these SMEs expect more business incentives to be revealed in today's (18 February) Budget announcement, to help them tackle these challenges.

In terms of manpower issues, two key challenges posed to SMEs polled include hiring the right people (43%) and retaining employees (27%). Despite this, four in five SMEs polled said their employees are well-equipped with the relevant skills for the job. At the same time, nine in 10 now have access to affordable training programmes under SkillsFuture.

This has allowed SMEs to focus on: growing/maintaining their market share (30%); growing their business revenue (29%); and developing their digital business capabilities (23%).

Skills training positively impacts real wages

In line with the topic of affordable training programmes above, a recent study by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has found that employees who have undergone skills training receive higher wages in Singapore.

More specifically, those with a Statement of Attainment (SOA) after attending Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) modules enjoyed an average of 0.8% higher real wages in the year after training as compared to their control group (benchmark).

Further, those with full WSQ qualification experienced a real wage premium of 5.8% on average in the year after training.

At the same time, SOA and full qualification trainees who were unemployed in the year of training had a higher chance of employment in the following year.

On average, those unemployed and with an SOA were 3.5 percentage points (pp) more likely than their control group to be employed in the year after training, while those unemployed full qualification trainees were 2.6pp more likely.

ALSO READ: Citibank Singapore launches IBF certified skills training for staff

PayPal Fintech Programme to train more than 1,700 polytechnic and ITE students

When it comes to training, apart from government initiated programmes such as the WSQ, many organisations are collaborating with tertiary institutions in a bid to nurture talent.

One such organisation is PayPal which signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Singapore's five polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education on Friday (15 February) to collaborate on a FinTech programme. This programme aims to nurture talent in the field through an industry-based applied learning experience.

As part of this programme, PayPal will work with the institutions to enhance their curriculum and equip students with the foundation of e-payments by gradually integrating proprietary materials and case studies into four theory-based modules (Payments 101, PayPal Solutions, API Integration, and Testing in PayPal Sandbox).

The programme will take place over the next three years, and benefit more than 1,700 students enrolled in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) courses.

David Stock, Chief Executive Officer of PayPal, said: "We want to help empower local tech talents with industry knowledge and cultivate a future-ready workforce who can meet the needs of SMEs which are looking to digitise their businesses.

"Driving Singapore’s digital transformation requires a concerted effort across every stakeholder in the ecosystem and we are proud to be powering this movement for Singapore’s workforce and businesses."

Soh Wai Wah, Principal and CEO of Singapore Polytechnic, added: "Fintech is fast gaining momentum in today’s economy, and the polytechnics and ITE are committed to nurture a pool of skilled talents for the sector.

"Through our collaboration with PayPal, we hope to further develop our students’ skills and knowledge in the field through an authentic learning environment, ultimately strengthening Singapore’s fintech ecosystem."

ALSO READ: Google Singapore and SMU team up for undergrad course on data & analytics

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