Prudential, SkillsFuture Singapore team up to accelerate skills development for SMEs

AS part of a collaboration between Prudential Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can get help from the insurer to develop their workforce's skills and drive business growth and transformation.

Prudential's SME Skills Accelerator (SSA) programme will support SMEs to develop and implement skills development plans, so they can be better positioned to respond to the rapidly evolving business environment.

The programme has been running since late October, with more than 30 participating SMEs from 23 industries including construction, education, food and beverage (F&B), funeral services and information technology.

SMEs get their skills needs assessed by a dedicated Skills Manager, who customises solutions for them by identifying suitable initiatives and available support, and connects them with the institutes of higher learning (IHLs) to access interns and research resources.

Skills Ambassadors, who are Prudential financial consultants trained and equipped with knowledge on SkillsFuture initiatives, will engage SMEs in the programme and work with the Skills Manager to strengthen workplace learning practices and culture.

The Skills Manager will work with SSG to connect SMEs with the learning opportunities and resources available for employee upskilling, including a workshop by Prudential for employees on design thinking skills that will aid in their companies' innovation and transformation initiatives.

SMEs can receive funding of up to 90 per cent from SSG when they enrol in courses from IHLs and private training providers that the Skills Managers have curated in their training plans.

Prudential will also build a digital platform for SMEs to book training courses and receive reminders and course recommendations for their workforce development needs. It has set up a customised digital platform called Pulse Communities for participating SMEs to share best practices, learn from one another and obtain information on training programmes.

Prudential Singapore's chief customer officer Goh Theng Kiat noted that SMEs may have been forced to put training and upskilling plans on hold amid the current crisis, and need support given their limited resources.

Through the SSA programme, Prudential aims to equip SMEs with skills and resources to grow and innovate their business, upskill employees to aid their career progression and improve employee retention. The programme will also provide opportunities for SMEs to learn from their peers, he added.

"We want to help SMEs on their journeys of continuous learning, as being future-ready will drive a company's long-term business growth, which in turn will help sustain Singapore's economic growth," Mr Goh said.

Said Ong Tze Chin, chief executive of SSG: "A workforce that is equipped with the latest emerging skills is critical in helping our SMEs stay competitive and grow their businesses ... Through this programme, we aim to help more SMEs identify their skills gaps, and more importantly, put in place the learning action plans to help their workforce bridge those gaps."

Goh Thiam Chwee, managing director of Kah Huat Song Kee Fish Agent, said his company has learnt about using technology to set up standardised processes for new products and services.

"Through the SSA programme, we also learnt design thinking frameworks to come up with improvement ideas for our industrial equipment," he said. "Most importantly, our employees have learnt how to create new ideas and think differently when designing new products and customer service."

The programme helped F&B company Delinatural identify a business opportunity gap and come up with ways to potentially fill this gap, said director Hartaj Singh.

"For example, we wanted to increase sustainable sales for direct-to-consumer ice cream deliveries, and were able to ideate ways to improve the productivity and efficiency of our delivery services," Mr Singh said.

The collaboration between Prudential and SSG is part of the SkillsFuture Queen Bee partnership, which taps industry leaders with expertise, extensive business networks and deep sectoral knowledge to influence and support other enterprises to scale up their skills development efforts, and extend the SkillsFuture movement's reach.

SMEs can e-mail for more information or to sign up for Prudential's SSA programme.