SINGAPORE: Starting from July, full-time staff at local telco Singtel will receive two additional days of leave each year to attend SkillsFuture courses, the company announced on Monday (Jul 4).
The initiative, which is expected to benefit 10,000 staff in Singtel and its subsidiary NCS, is one of several that demonstrate the company's support of SkillsFuture, it said in a press release.
Group chief human resources officer Aileen Tan said that by giving staff two days of leave to pursue new skills, the company hopes to encourage them to manage their professional development "more proactively".
This is important because Singtel operates in "a dynamic industry that is constantly changing", Ms Tan said.
"More than ever, we believe in the importance of equipping our staff with the necessary skills and capabilities to support our digital ventures and the Government’s efforts to transform Singapore into a Smart Nation," she added.
To help employees familiarise themselves with SkillsFuture courses and credits, Singtel said it has organised roadshows, where employees can attend talks and link up with educational providers to register for courses.
Staff can go for any course, even those that are not related to their job function. It is a move that its employees have welcomed.
Said Ms Jessica Teo, manager of planning at Singtel: "I thought having two days of leave for SkillsFuture courses is very good. Because I can now utilise these two days to take up something of my interest."
Ms Tan noted: "We do not see this as a disruption at all. In fact, it is a big investment in our people and in our business. As our people gain new skill sets, they are a lot more confident about what they can contribute, and as they stay relevant, definitely they will be a lot more productive at the workplace.
OTHER COMPANIES OFFERING INCENTIVES UNDER SKILLSFUTURE
Other companies Channel NewsAsia spoke to said they too offer incentives to employees under the SkillsFuture movement.
For instance, DBS, OCBC and semiconductor firm SSMC top up their employees' SkillsFuture credits.
OCBC also gives employees time off to attend the 120 courses it has shortlisted, if the courses are conducted during working hours. About 6,000 employees ranked Senior Associate and below at DBS will also receive an annual S$500 DBS SkillsFlex Credit.
SSMC offers dollar-to-dollar matching of the credits, so employees will get S$1,000 worth of credits for SkillsFuture courses, including soft skills and language classes.
"CONTINUAL LEARNING A LIFELINE OF WORKERS AND COMPANIES": NTUC
The labour movement said it hopes more employers can offer similar incentives to their staff.
Mr Desmond Choo, director of the Progressive Wage Model, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), commented: "NTUC and its unions have been pushing fairly hard to get more employers to offer leave when workers go on SkillsFuture training.
"I think it's quite important because continual learning is the lifeline of both workers and companies. Employers that come onboard and offer this leave can help to catalyse a culture of continual learning in (their) workforce."
Mr Choo said he hopes employers can look beyond immediate training needs and take a longer-term view of the skills the workforce will need in future.