Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck had recently concluded a six-day industry study trip to Germany on Saturday.

Accompanied by delegates from companies, including local SMEs and MNCs, he visited leading enterprises in Berlin and Munich, such as IBM Deutschland GmbH, Biotronik SE & Co. KG and DECKEL MAHO where they picked up some productivity and work-life initiatives that German organisations had implemented.

One of the interesting lessons that German companies adopt is flexible working time accounts, where employees are allowed to accumulate and manage time credits or deficits from working longer and shorter hours respectively. Through this initiative, employees have the flexibility to adjust their working hours on a need-to basis with minimum impact on operations.

Commenting on the key lesson of this trip, Minister Teo mentioned, “Manpower-lean initiatives and work-life strategies are complementary and will be increasingly essential for companies to remain competitive amidst the tight labour market. This study trip has given us a first-hand look at how things can be done by companies of different sizes and industries.”

He also shedded light on the German government’s Central Innovation Programme, which funds SMEs’ research and development, noting that it is a “forward looking and insightful” approach.

Douglas Foo – a delegate of the trip and also the vice president of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) – commented, “To reap sustainable productivity gains from automation, it is crucial to also streamline work processes, re-organise the workplace as well as enhance the skills sets of employees to undertake different job scopes.”

Other companies which joined the trip included Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), Singaporean-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and government representatives.

Photo / 123RF