New SkillsFuture initiative to fast track staff development

A new internship and on-the-job training program has been unveiled to help one industry attract and develop new local workers

A brand new SkillsFuture initiative which integrates internships and on-the-job training has been granted to the Singapore retail sector. The program was announced by Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung at an MOU signing yesterday (26 January).
At the event, five companies – including Charles & Keith, Cold Storage and Isetan – signed the MOU with polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). They will all offer the integrated program which combines the already-running Enhanced Internship and Earn and Learn Programmes.
Participating firms will get early access to staff, first taking them on as interns and later putting them through pre-job and on-the-job training.
This initiative offers a new fast-track route that works in the following way: students who complete the 20-week enhanced internship program will then be offered employment with one of the signed industry partners. This will fall under the Earn and Learn Programme, although the duration will be reduced to 12 months instead of the 18 months offered to other sectors.
Helen Khoo, executive director of Wing Tai Retail, said the program would allow firms to enhance staff experience in a number of areas such as store supervision, visual merchandising and HR.
“We want to build a pipeline of talent to join retail, not necessarily to stay with us forever, but to raise the professionalism of the industry,” she told The Straits Times.
The retail sector is the first to get this newly integrated program. While there are no further plans as yet to extend this to other sectors, HR in all industries should take note of these new developments. Any future programs offered would further increase the talent pool of the associated industries and may provide assistance in a tight labour market.
“With this enhanced, longer internship, retailers will get the chance to rotate students around at least two departments or areas of operation, giving the student much more exposure and a more realistic and positive impression of what retail holds for them as a career,” Nanyang Polytechnic deputy principal, Henry Heng, said.
Around 80 to 100 students are expected to partake in the initiative’s first round which is expected to commence in March or April this year. This means there will be up to 100 more candidates keen to be snapped up by firms within the retail sector.
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