These SMEs will receive more support to build the skills and capabilities of their workforce, and be part of a learning ecosystem that will enable them to grow their businesses by investing in their talent. 

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), DesignSingapore Council (Dsg) and global creative agency Tribal Worldwide have partnered to launch a transformational skills development programme, catering to SMEs in the design sector.

This first-of-its-kind, industry-led skills development programme, led by Tribal Worldwide (a SkillsFuture Queen Bee company) and supported by Dsg and SSG, will provide SMEs in the sector more support to build the skills and capabilities of their workforce, and be part of a learning ecosystem that will enable them to grow their businesses by investing in their talent. 

In a press release, the partners said as part of this programme, the SMEs will be able to identify capability gaps, co-design training plans, and access government funding solutions to address their skills training needs.

"Against the backdrop of rapid digitalisation of customer experiences and business models, further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in demand from all areas of the economy for customer-centric services and solutions.

"This has led to a critical need for the design, marketing and technology industry to evolve their capabilities to keep pace with these developments. The introduction of this new programme for the design sector is timely during such economic uncertainty as it aims to help local design SMEs strategise and invest in the development of their own talents," the press release noted.

"This would make it more sustainable for their businesses in the longer term, rather than focusing on short-term business goals such as sales revenue increment."

Through the SkillsFuture Queen Bee partnership, Tribal Worldwide aims to transform the current context of the design sector by fostering a community of learning and encouraging a culture of collectivism. Smaller firms are encouraged to come together or partner other firms that can complement each other's capabilities, so as to grow their business collectively and share knowledge, as well as gain a competitive edge when competing with larger design companies.

Design SMEs that participate in the programme will also have access to a conducive support network that shares a common goal to grow through skills.

More details on the programme can be found here.


MOM, WSG and SBF on measures taken to ensure wellbeing of SGUnited Trainees

In similar training news, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Workforce Singapore (WSG), and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) have released a statement on measures taken to ensure the wellbeing of trainees under the SGUnited Traineeships Programme.

The statement first highlighted that Singapore's Employment Act (EA) covers employees who are engaged by a company under a contract of service and as such, interns who have signed such a contract with their employers would be covered under the EA. That said, students who are undergoing internships as part of their academic course requirements in schools are not covered by the EA.

As for trainees under the SGUnited Traineeship Programme, this group is engaged by the host organisations/companies under a training agreement, thus having no relationship with the host. Therefore, the trainee would not be covered under the EA.

However, it was stated that while this is so, those who encounter issues with their host organisations should report them to SBF. For each case, SBF will get in touch with both the trainee and host organisation to investigate the situation. Where there is no wrongdoing on the part of the host organisation, SBF will attempt to resolve the issues through mediation so that both the host organisation and the trainee can come to a mutually-agreeable resolution, and continue to benefit from the programme.

For cases involving discrimination or employment malpractices, SBF will seek assistancce from MOM and/or the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices to intervene and take the necessary enforcement actions.

At the same time, the statement noted: "Where the case involves breaches of the terms and conditions of the SGUnited Traineeships Programme, SBF will review and investigate the allegation. SBF will not hesitate to take further action together with MOM and WSG against the host organisation, including rescinding approvals and clawing back any grants disbursed in serious cases of breaches or malpractices."

Requirements for host organisations to note

According to the statement, host organisations are required to pay the monthly training allowance as stipulated in the training agreement, as part of their obligations with SBF. In the event they do not adhere to these obligations, the SBF is authorised to withhold the disbursement of grants to them.

On the trainee's end, they are allowed to leave the traineeship at any point in time - for example, to commence a full-time role elsewhere), as long as they provide sufficient notice to the host organisation, as per the training agreement.

Other measures to safeguard the wellbeing of trainees are as follows:

  • Firstly, each application is scrutinised by the SBF to ensure that host companies structure their traineeships appropriately with clear development plans. SBF also assists companies to review and improve their proposals, especially for applications that are incomplete or lacking in detail. This ensures that the traineeship experience is a positive and meaningful one.

  • Before each traineeship commences, both the trainee and the host organisation are required to sign a traineeship agreement, which also includes the training development plan, so that there is clear agreement between both parties on the outcomes to be achieved from the traineeship. Every host organisation is then required to update SBF on the trainee's progress. This will be done by checking against the development plan that was approved by SBF for the respective traineeship. Trainees will also have to sign off on the progress report before SBF disburses the training allowance to the company.

In the statement, MOM, WSG and SBF noted a recent case involving a trainee who had accepted a 12-month traineeship programme as a teacher in a tuition centre. About two months into the programme, the trainee (nicknamed 'Michael') had notified the host company of his intention to leave in order to accept a permanent position elsewhere. However, the company was unwilling to accept it due to concerns about filling the vacancy.

In light of this, the statement said: "Since 2 December 2020, SBF had actively mediated the disputes between 'Michael' and the host organisation. 'Michael' has since ended his traineeship and received his full allowance. WSG has also rescinded the approval for the host organisation to offer new traineeships and attachments, as well as barred it from future participation in all WSG Programmes, as the facts gathered show that the host organisation had not acted in good faith by stopping the trainee from leaving the programme.

"This is in direct contradiction of the spirit of the traineeship as trainees should be allowed to leave the programme as long as they provide sufficient notice."


Photo / 123RF

Readers' Survey 2021: We'd like to hear from you! Please let us know what content is most valuable to you in 2021 by taking our 3-minute survey now. Thank you, readers!