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NTUC to offer ‘bite-sized’ training courses for workers

SINGAPORE — To ensure that all workers can be equipped with skills continually and quickly, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is for the first time developing “bited sized, just-in-time” training that would be offered to workers at an affordable fee.

NTUC to offer ‘bite-sized’ training courses for workers

Participants at the NTUC Ordinary Delegates’ Conference. Photo: Patrick Tay/Facebook

SINGAPORE — To ensure that all workers can be equipped with skills continually and quickly, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is for the first time developing “bited sized, just-in-time” training that would be offered to workers at an affordable fee.

NTUC said that it would be working with the institutes of higher learning and industry partners to develop such “speed-to-market” training.

This was one of several issues that union leaders and other company representatives discussed with Cabinet Ministers on Wednesday (Nov 15), at a dialogue after the NTUC Ordinary Delegates’ Conference.

In a media briefing after the conference, NTUC secretary-general Chan Chun Sing said: “In the new model, there is no designated end point, where you finish 10 modules and get a degree. You learn continuously to get bite-sized knowledge. So something happens in cyber security, (they) get to know this as quickly as possible… (they) need not necessarily have to go back to the institutes of higher learning, because by the time they do that, the cycle is too long and too slow for today’s economy.”

On the shorter training modules, he said: “Working people find it hard to go back to school to take a long course, and commit time and money. So we need to package the modules in small packets... targeted at the respective workers.”

One example is an initiative that NTUC launched last week, called the U Future Leaders Exchange, where workers pay just S$100 for unlimited access to various training modules. Another is Uleap, which NTUC will be launching this week. It would be another avenue to deliver bite-sized programmes to relevant industries, starting with a few selected ones, where the learning cycle is much faster than traditional cycles, Mr Chan said.

He also said that NTUC would organise all unions into 23 clusters, corresponding to the 23 Industry Transformation Maps being launched by the Government, so as to support the plans and get them translated into tangible outcomes.

The ITMs for the 23 industries are tailored to the needs of each industry and aimed at driving productivity and innovation.

SHRINKING STUDENT COHORT SIZES

Earlier during the conference, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said that it is timely for institutes of higher learning to start focusing on continuous training for workers.

This is because now that cohort sizes are dropping, resources can be put to training workers, and they may turn themselves into lifelong training institutes, he said.

During the conference, union leaders raised their concerns over various matters, including protection for freelancers, how to attract Singaporeans to unpopular industries, as well as limits to the Central Provident Fund’s Medisave accounts.

Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo had said that discussions are ongoing on better support and protection for freelancers. This included helping freelancers come up with written contracts with their service buyers, work injury protection for certain groups such as delivery riders, and retirement adequacy, because not all who are self-employed save their earnings regularly.

In response to a union leader’s concern that the marine industry has problems hiring Singaporeans because most of them wish to work in an office environment, she said that such companies need to think about how best to redesign the jobs to make them more attractive to Singaporeans.

NTUC also announced on Wednesday that it is changing its constitution to support all workers in Singapore, and not just rank-and-file employees.

Mr Chan said: “In the past, the constitution could have been narrowly interpreted by some as just representing the rank-and-file workers, using the union as the only mechanism. What we have established today is that we are going to serve all working people whether you call them PMETs, rank-and-file, and so on.”

He said that NTUC also has more platforms now, beyond the union, to support different groups of workers. This includes U Associates to help PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) expand their professional networks, and the Migrant Workers’ Centre and Centre for Domestic Employees to support migrants and foreign domestic workers.

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