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HR certification now eligible for SkillsFuture credits to spur more staff from SMEs to sign up

SINGAPORE – Human resource (HR) practitioners who wish to deepen their skills and gain professional certification from Singapore’s professional HR body will be able to tap their SkillsFuture credits to cover costs from end-2023.

This was among several new skills initiatives announced by Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang at a SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) event on Friday. The initiatives by partners of the government agency broadly target small and medium-sized enterprises.

The move by the Institute for Human Resource Professionals (IHRP) comes as the Government, labour movement and employers jointly push to improve work standards in the HR sector by getting more practitioners certified, with the aim of getting 12,000 on board by 2025, up from the over 7,000 currently.

IHRP chief executive Aslam Sardar told reporters that the institute is on track to meet the target, but expressed hope that the eligibility for SkillsFuture credits would spur more HR staff from SMEs to get certified.

On why the certification was approved for SkillsFuture credit usage, he said: “There’s mutual recognition that things were aligned between our industry-created body of competencies and the national (SkillsFuture) framework, and there was actually merit to consider this move.”

Ms Gan said the certification prepares HR professionals for the future by imparting the skills to implement progressive HR practices in their organisations.

She was speaking at the inaugural SkillsFuture SME Conference at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Paya Lebar.

Other changes announced by SSG’s skills development partners on Friday include a framework for chartered engineers specialising in sustainability by the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES), slated for launch in early 2024.

IES president Dalson Chung said the institute built the framework in hopes of training engineers in a nascent area with rising demand in line with Singapore’s growing sustainability ambitions. He added that chartered engineers in sustainability can take on roles in areas like carbon accounting and implementing the circular economy, with the chartered status assuring clients of the engineers’ skills.

IES and IHRP are among the five skills development partners appointed by SSG in August 2022.

The other three are the Singapore Computer Society, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the SGTech trade association.

These partners will inform SMEs on in-demand sectoral skills, as well as develop pathways for employees to learn industry-relevant skills and gain industry-recognised credentials, Ms Gan said.

She noted: “We understand some of our SMEs may find it more challenging to participate in skills training due to a tight manpower situation, as well as lack of resources and scale.”

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The conference caps the annual SkillsFuture Festival, which began on July 4, and has attracted over 205,000 participants and 1,300 enterprises across more than 190 events.

Ms Gan also provided updates on the impact of various SSG programmes.

For instance, the 30 SkillsFuture Queen Bees have benefited over 2,300 enterprises, mostly SMEs, by organising skills development activities. SkillsFuture Queen Bees are industry-leading firms appointed to galvanise the training efforts of SMEs.

“These include training programmes curated by the Queen Bees and skills advisory services to help the SMEs develop plans for enterprise and workforce transformation,” Ms Gan said.

Meanwhile, over 30 companies have expressed interest in a pilot to count skills learnt on the job towards relevant certifications. The pilot was launched on June 1 for the retail and food services sectors initially.

Overall, the number of SMEs that participated in SSG-funded training has doubled from around 9,500 in 2020 to 19,000 in 2022.

The number of SME employees who benefited from this rose from around 55,000 in 2020 to almost 100,000 in 2022.

Food packaging distributor JNL is one of the SMEs which have benefited from its partnership with a Queen Bee – in this case, DBS.

Mr Joshua Lim, sales director at JNL, said the company began ramping up its sustainability efforts a year ago, and started exploring a more sustainable form of biodegradable plastic about half a year ago.

DBS helped to curate courses in digital marketing and communication on environmental, social and governance topics to both consumers and clients, which Mr Lim said greatly helped the company in its ongoing pivot.

“If you have a good product, and you don’t market it well, you don’t let people know exactly what it is,” he said.

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