NTUC Learning Hub unveils plans for skills training

SINGAPORE : Emphasising productivity, employability and innovation is the task of the labour movement’s training centre, the NTUC Learning Hub, which opened its latest campus at Bras Basah Road on Thursday.

The city campus is set up in the Trade Union House, which previously housed the POSBank Headquarters. The building was refurbished at a cost of S$3 million.

NTUC Learning Hub is in the business of providing quality training for rank—and—file workers.

Since August 2004, 562,584 workers have been up—skilled in various sectors. They include manufacturing, construction, shipbuilding, infocomm technology, food & beverage, logistics, retail, and hospitality.

NTUC Learning Hub has also expanded its capacity over the years. Currently, it is operating at six locations, with 150 training classrooms, and employing 50 trainers and 250 staff.

In the area of up—skilling the workforce, just in 2009 alone, 18,941 workers benefited from its programmes. NTUC Learning Hub has also trained 39,825 older workers 50 years and above and helped 57,259 foreign workers in their training needs.

Moving forward, its next target group is the PMETs — professionals, managers, executives and technicians.

Lim Swee Say, secretary—general, NTUC, said: "For PMETs, firstly, the training duration cannot be too long because they have a responsibility at the workplace. So our first challenge is how do we plan our courses so that they are (about) two to five days.

"Secondly, the training contents must lead to a quantum leap in their professional competency. And thirdly, is to inculcate in them this innovative mindset.

"As they apply their competency at their workplace, they should not only try to do things of today better, but at the same time, do things differently to create a competitive advantage for them."

Besides catering to the training needs of Singapore companies, NTUC Learning Hub is also linking up with some of the best institutes in the world to bring their courses to Singapore.

One example is the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) at the State University of New York.

Together, NTUC Learning Hub and FIT will launch programmes such as innovation management, targeted at senior executives, as well as present a seminar on global fashion retailing trends.

Zee Yoong Kang, CEO, NTUC Learning Hub, said: "The lesson we learnt when we brought FIT in is that the range of courses that they have do not just confine themselves to the specific area of fashion.

"FIT has deep expertise in leadership and management and strategy that is relevant to the fashion. They also can talk about customer service. So beyond the specific technical skills, there is the whole range of broader managerial and leadership skills, and many of the organisations have the incredible depth that they can bring here."

NTUC Learning Hub is also working with Singapore’s tertiary institutions on programmes in human capital management and business skills for PMETs.

Commenting on its outreach programmes to the PMETs, Mr Zee explained. "Through the years, by serving the rank—and—file workers, we have by far built up the strongest sales and marketing capability in the training industry.

"As you know, training is not something people come forward to, we have to push it to them and by building up our sales force, we are going to have a direct outreach to employers. We also work with organisations like SNEF and our partners in the tripartite movement to reach out to the industry sectors to send workers to us."

Mr Lim said: "We will continue to reach out to the rank—and—file workers, and at the same time, we expand to the PMETs because they are the core driving force for innovation.

"Secondly, in terms of course content, as we move towards an innovation—driven economy, we ought to try to learn from the best of the world, because in some areas there are expertise out there which we believe we can bring to Singapore through the Learning Hub."

He added: "We will have a workforce which is not only the most productive in the world, but also most employable and innovative in the world."

NTUC Learning Hub plans to train up to 4,000 PMETs this year. — CNA/ms