Budget sees big company HR win out over cash-strapped colleagues

by Ben Abbott27 Feb 2015
HR managers and teams in large and well-resourced companies are set to be the winners from SkillsFuture plans, with smaller teams seeing less benefits.
 
This week the government announced initiatives that will see the subsidisation of courses for mid-career workers and the provision of cash grants for training.
 
Singaporeans aged 25 and above will now have a SkillsFuture Credit Account for work-skills related courses, with an initial credit of S$500 to rise over time.
 
Mid-career Singaporeans aged 40 and above will be able to access higher education and training subsidies of at least 90% for approved courses.
 
The design of the measures will also see the government effectively supporting firms that create or enhance in-house talent development programmes.
 
However, an expert panel brought together by The Straights Times has claimed only HR executives in bigger companies will be able to take advantage.
 
"I would say that the immediate beneficiaries will be the big organisations... they have HR departments, and already have training programmes in place, they can just quickly tap that," president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Thomas Chua told The Straights Times.
 
"But look at the smaller SMEs and micro-enterprises. They don't have an HR function or professional HR managers. Many of them are facing tight manpower constraints, so it is not possible to send their staff for training,” he said.
 
Part of the SkillsFuture programme is designed to help HR teams with their manpower needs, again potentially advantaging larger companies.
 
The newly announced Earn and Learn Programme will pair polytechnic and ITE graduates with employers for on-the-job training and mentorship, as well as provide funding support for both trainees and employers.
 
Larger HR teams are also better positioned to participate in programmes such as the Leadership Development Initiative, grooming future corporate leaders.
 
However SMEs are likely to benefit from sectoral manpower plans and a pool of SkillsFuture Mentors, who can help them build valuable skills in-house.
 
The panel said a large part of the responsibility for the success of SkillsFuture was in the hands of individuals, who need to take advantage of the training.
 
However, the panel also called on companies and their HR teams to support the creation of a culture of lifelong learning in Singapore. The suggestion is that companies will also reap the benefits of a surge in in-house skills.
 
However, HR teams have been warned not to push employees into courses they do not wish to use their credit on. The government’s education funding is designed to assist individuals in choosing their own career path.
 

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