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How Singapore’s employers can overcome talent shortages and skill gaps



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This article is brought to you by e2i (Employment and Employability Institute).

See how employers, industry partners and job seekers can tap on expertise in job matching and career coaching for a win-win scenario.

Returning to work after a 20-year hiatus was a nerve-wracking experience for Allison Yeo*, who left her job in 1998 as a sales consultant in the beauty industry to take care of her family. Having been a homemaker for years, she found herself ready to return to the workforce once her children were older, armed with a positive mindset and willingness to learn.

However, after numerous job applications, only two companies responded – the first putting her dexterity skills to the test under a microscope, and the other asking for past production experiences – both of which fell through.

Undeterred, she tried for yet another job, this time at Alpha Medicals*, where employees work to churn out lifesaving medical equipment. Here, her prayers were answered, in the role of Associate Machine Operator.

She says: “The first few months were very challenging; my job was mainly to prepare materials for the artificial tissue heart valves production and I had to work with a variety of equipment. I also had to learn how to use the computer, read manuals and follow the SOPs but I really appreciate my team and supervisor for their support and guidance.”

It is no coincidence that Allison found the right fit at this company, even as she credits the numerous training sessions provided to stay-at-home moms like her to re-enter the workforce.

Behind the scenes, companies and partners such as Alpha Medicals have been going the extra mile to work with the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to develop programmes, address manpower needs across industries, and through relevant training, tackle skills gaps among job seekers interested in taking on jobs with good growth and potential.

Piecing the puzzle: Placement and job matching

Allison Yeo is among the 600,000 workers across more than 40 sectors who have benefitted from e2i, which serves all segments of workers, from rank-and-file to professionals, managers and executives since its inception in 2008. With a motto of “better jobs for better lives”, e2i is an initiative of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), to support nation-wide manpower and skills upgrading initiatives.

There are three key areas whereby employers in Singapore, especially HR leaders, can leverage e2i’s expertise – placement, professional development, and productivity improvements.

Let’s have a look at how e2i’s placement services can assist employers. For example, before KidZania Singapore opened its doors, it partnered e2i to hold a two-day dedicated job fair to recruit team leads and ‘zupervisors’, who were then trained and primed to receive its eager young audience.

General Manager of KidZania Singapore, Leong Yue Weng shared: “We were able to leverage on e2i’s database to make our hiring easier and commence our team members’ training programmes even before our park was ready.”

Through career fairs, networking events and back-end referrals, employers can work with e2i to reach out to a greater pool of talents.

Prior to implementing the project, manual and tedious work processes were involved to produce various types of pastries. With job redesign, the company’s productivity leapt by 30%.

Employers who are open to hire career switchers to support HR functions will also be glad to know they can potentially enjoy up to 70% course fee funding and up to 90% salary support through the Professional Conversion Programme for Human Resource Management (PCP-HR), supported by e2i, that seeks to train unemployed PMETs and non-PMETs to become qualified HR professionals.

Trainees will be equipped with knowledge such as human resource management, manpower legislation and industrial relations, and human resource development.

Through its placement and job matching services,and funding support, e2i’s one-stop, personalised services can give employers a big leg-up to find suitable candidates with relevant skills.

Training to win: Professional development

Easing new hires into their jobs with necessary skills is just one of e2i’s services under the professional development portfolio, achieved through initiatives such as Place-and-Train and Professional Conversion Programmes.

For instance it has worked with companies to curate in-house training programmes for their HR professionals, on topics such as delivering transformational change, the Employment Act and its practical applications, HR strategic analytics and reporting, and more.

Apart from keeping them upskilled through training, HR leaders can also opt in for coaching specialisations, supported by Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) that encourages members to go for skills upgrading to enhance their employability.

This focus has reaped rewards in a number of ways. For example, e2i and Chemical Industries Employees’ Union (CIEU) worked on the Medtech Industry Transformation Map with key medtech players on skills upgrading, recruitment and productivity.

The parties have since put in place industry briefings, preparatory training and/or work trial to impart necessary skills for new entrants to join the industry. This has enabled at least 150 Singaporeans from various backgrounds to do so, with a significant number being able to upgrade their skills through these initiatives.

Soaring ahead: Productivity improvements

In supporting workers to transit into Industry 4.0, 2019 calls for employers to stay on top of technological disruptions and changing business models through productivity improvements. To surf this wave successfully, employers can look into automating or improving their work processes, for which e2i is an ideal partner – given its mission to improve work processes, and create higher value, smarter and easier jobs.

For instance, e2i partners with its network of employers to redesign job processes through automation and technology adoption. Among these was Montreux Patisserie, a pastry production and distribution company, which collaborated with e2i under the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP), enabling it to tap on automated machinery to centralise production operations and build integrated workflow plans.

Montreux also worked with e2i and received funding support under WorkPro to benefit its mature workers aged 50 years and above.

Prior to implementing the project, manual and tedious work processes were involved to produce various types of pastries. Inconsistencies and high wastage were common issues. With job redesign, the company’s productivity leapt by 30% and workers’ jobs become easier, safer and smarter. Such productivity gains were shared with low wage and mature workers through higher wages.

Through such collaboration with e2i and efforts by companies, both companies and workers get to benefit from higher productivity and better jobs, as well as safer and smarter work processes and environment for the workers.

Over and above these services, e2i is one of the official programme partners for the enhanced Work-Life Grant. Aimed to enhance work-life harmony, the grant not only incentivises companies to sustain implementation offlexible work arrangements for their local employees, but also incentivises employers to implement job sharing for PMETs.

In 2019, e2i will continue to work closely with industry partners and stakeholders to ensure the local workforce is equipped with future-ready skills, and support companies in their manpower needs.


To find out more about e2i’s services, click here or call 6474 0606.

*These names of individuals and companies have been changed to maintain privacy.

Photo / 123RF

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