SINGAPORE: 27 employees and 14 employers on Wednesday (Aug 2) became the first recipients of the SkillsFuture Fellowships and Employer Awards.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung (Higher Education and Skills) said that SkillsFuture Singapore received "a very strong response when it invited nominations".
"We have a crop of very deserving winners," he added, citing examples of individuals who have mastered skills in their respective fields, as well as companies that have built a learning culture in their workplaces.
He added that the spirit of mentorship helps improve work quality from each generation to the next.
“It is about finding one special spark, focusing on it and fanning it into a flame, through training, mentorship, hard work, practice, and for society to then recognise these outstanding accomplishments across many fields,” he said.
Fellowship award recipients receive S$10,000 each to support their training and development ventures.
'AGE IS NOT A BARRIER'
At 70, training officer Rama Kerisna has come a long way from his initial Primary 5 qualification.
Back in his 20s, he could barely string together an eloquent sentence in English. But his confidence picked up after he enrolled in a business English diploma course. He eventually completed his GCE N-Level examinations at 48.
Mr Kerisna took some 30 courses throughout his career, enabling him to grow from a security officer to a duty manager.
Seven years ago, he moved from operations to become a full-time trainer in the company.
Today, the Fellowship award recipient may well be past the retirement age of 62, but Mr Kerisna plans to complete an audit course and a specialist diploma by the International Air Transport Association next.
“Age is not a barrier. Whatever age you are, you can still go all out,” he told Channel NewsAsia.
“As long as you're living in this world, upgrade yourself and then maybe you can motivate others with your skills, then let others come up too,” he added.
Likewise for business owner and Employer Award recipient Terence Yow, continuous training is an integral part of boosting the firm’s productivity.
Enviably Me is an SME with less than 50 employees. The retail distributor heads brands such as eco-friendly shoe boutique Melissa, Emu Australia and Addicts Anonymous.
While small companies in the retail industry typically face a high employee turnover rate of about 50 per cent yearly, Mr Yow says sending his employees for courses has drastically reduced his firm's attrition rate from 200 per cent to under 10 per cent yearly.
"A big part of that must be attributed to us encouraging our staff members to constantly upgrade themselves, improve their skills,” he said.
Although he roughly estimates investing some million dollars into training in the last six years, he contends that the long term benefits far outweighs short-term workflow disruption.
“We see how training helps them serve customers better. With better performance, we see their careers grow and we see them promoted.
“And they stay with you, because they know that you are a company that believes in investing in people.
“So that's what works for us."