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More people need to embrace lifelong learning: HR experts

Some human resource experts said a mindset change is needed to encourage more in Singapore to embrace lifelong learning.

SINGAPORE: Some human resource experts said a mindset change is needed to encourage more in Singapore to embrace lifelong learning.

During the May Day Rally on Thursday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said developing better workers will help improve the lives of Singaporeans, and one way is through Continuing Education and Training (CET).

25-year-old Emmanuel Pereira is one of the first to undergo the Recruitment Consultant Place-and-Train programme, which provides him with six months of on-the-job training.

It is one of the latest to be developed by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), together with the Singapore Professional Recruitment Organisation. The first run of the programme began in January 2014. The programme includes foundation training and WSQ-certified HR professional modules.

Mr Pereira, a talent specialist at Recruit Plus, said: "The course has benefited me... (and) prepares me for what to expect in the industry."

Employers said the programme will help raise industry standards, especially since entry barriers are low. It is also the first of such courses for the industry.

Adrian Tan, managing director at Recruit Plus and president of the Singapore Professional Recruitment Organisation, said: "A lot of new recruiters that come into the business may not have sufficient training. They're just given a phone book, a phone number, they have to sink or swim. So the training actually comes in to address that.

"e2i has been very helpful in providing not just the training assistance, but also the financial assistance. So from a business perspective, it helps us to contain costs.

"Training is something that we don't have as a luxury for small businesses like ours, we don't have a dedicated training department or training personnel. By outsourcing that aspect, we are able to focus on what we do best, which is our core business."

The benefits of training are also seen in the longer term.

IT consultant Triston Wan has been with his company for two years. The 35-year-old has also been through a similar Place-and-Train programme, but still goes for training every quarter.

Mr Wan, who works at Sapientia Holdings, said: "My roles and responsibilities have changed and increased. Instead of working in the department by myself, I've now started to manage a team of technical engineers, and I've also started to be involved in sales-related roles... My pay has also increased by five to 10 per cent."

But some HR experts said that not all workers are receptive to the idea of lifelong learning.

Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resource Institute, said: "Typically, at the employee level we have a very contented mindset. That needs to be changed.

"The top management really needs to guide them, (let them see the light at the end of the tunnel) and let the employees see there's a great ROI (return on investment) for their long-term career growth, employability, even for their personal knowledge and growth."

With growing competition, human resource experts also said that CET will be an important strategy for Singapore in the long run. This is especially so as foreign investors look to set up businesses in Singapore and will consider how well-trained the local workforce is and how relevant their skills will be as time goes on.

Two new CET institutes are expected to help in this effort. The Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability was officially opened on May Day, and is operated by e2i.

Gilbert Tan, CEO of e2i, said: "Skill sets need to be transitioning all the time... Here at the campus, we are close to the industry, close to the unions, close to the employers to know what are these new skill sets that are needed and to be flexible and agile to change the curriculum, change the funding models, the support models, so that we can help workers be skilled in this new skill sets to complement changes in the economy."

The Lifelong Learning Institute will open in Paya Lebar later this year. It will be operated by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

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