THERE is now little excuse for busy owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to put training at the bottom of their priority list.
The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) have partnered Human Capital Singapore (HCS) to roll out a series of bite-sized courses for them to pick up knowledge and skills in areas such as leadership thinking, organisational development, internationalisation and best-in-class practices.
The initiative, called U Leap Community, was unveiled on Wednesday by NTUC leader and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng at a conference on issues such as Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence, digitisation and technology.
The event was hosted by e2i and HCS. The two agencies said in a statement: "Many SMEs operate with a lean workforce and business owners often have to take on multi-hatted leadership roles while focusing on day-to-day operations and paying close attention to the bottom-line of their business.
"Training is often relegated as a low priority or non-priority."
The e-learning modules under U Leap ("Learning Enabled though Active Participation") Community were curated in collaboration with HCS. They are aimed at boosting SME bosses' leadership and human capital skills to drive change, stay on top of trending developments and to bring their workers and company to the next level, said the statement by e2i and HCS.
e2i, started by NTUC, is "the empowering network for individuals and companies seeking skills and solution for growth".
HCS, which comes under the Skills Framework for Human Resource, is the national Continuing Education and Training (CET) centre for human resource management.
After completing relevant modules under the U Leap Community learning programme, SME bosses will earn an e-certification, which can be further stacked with industry-recognised classroom-based workshops for higher certification.
Gilbert Tan, the chief executive of e2i, said: "It is critical to equip SME business leaders with relevant skills and knowledge to help them transform their business and to stay ahead of the game.
"The U Leap Community for SME bosses will help time-strapped leaders to gain easy access to bite-sized learning, engage in discussions with their peers and to learn at their own pace."
HCS' chief executive Ho Geok Choo added: "For Singapore, grooming digital-savvy workers is a priority, as it is a push towards the country becoming a smart nation."
At the final session of the conference, which was a discussion on SME digitisation, Koh Poh Koon, NTUC's deputy secretary-general and Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said SMEs should not adopt a wait-and-see approach in going digital; digitalisation is the future and will become the way of life not only for business, but also society as a whole, he said.
Asked to offer "practical advice" to SMEs on going digital, SATS president and chief executive Alex Hungate said: "Focus on the people. Your people (workers) must be with you to succeed."
Derek Wang, the chief cloud architect at Alibaba Cloud International, said SMEs must always pay attention to customers' needs."
Dr Koh chipped in, adding that customers today expect businesses to digitalise to make it easy for them to buy their goods and services.
Keynote speaker Li Hongyi, the deputy director of the Government Technology Agency's Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Division, brought home this point by taking conference participants through the development of Parking.sg - an app that he and this team worked on to replace paper parking coupons.
He stressed that digital solutions must be as simple as possible and they should always be designed for the user.