Speeches/Interviews

July 30, 2018

Speech by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education at the Launch of the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (NACE), at Charles and Keith

Excellencies

Friends, ladies and gentlemen

1. I am happy to join you today for the launch of the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (NACE).

2. When Nanyang Polytechnic asked me if it was a good idea to develop themselves into a centre of excellence for supporting in-house training, I said yes immediately. The reason is obvious: employers’ training their own workers is the most important aspect of lifelong learning. After the formal education system, learning on the job takes over as the most important avenue for skills and knowledge upgrading. It is in the interest of employers to train their workers to help them perform; as it is in the interest of employees to learn more so that they can perform better. The incentives are aligned.

3. That is why even before we had Lifelong Learning Endowment Fund or SkillsFuture, we had the Skills Development Levy and Skills Development Fund to encourage employers to train their workers. Some companies, like Charles and Keith, do this very well and are competitive because of it. However, many others do not yet have the capability or the bandwidth to do it. Often, from day to day, they are fighting fire, are preoccupied with operations, and are unable to find time and resources to train their workers. This is like sawing continuously without sharpening the saw from time to time. It is not sustainable.

4. Hence, NACE is a very important initiative, and I thank NYP for initiating it. NACE will help equip local companies with the capability to train and develop their workers. It will engage interested companies to diagnose their readiness for workplace training, and recommend a customised plan. This can include mapping out the competency requirements for the company, establish an on-the-job training structure, or specific skills training or management development programmes.

5. Once the companies are able to properly implement the plan, they will be jointly endorsed and certified. NACE is committed to walking every step of the way with the companies, on their journey towards certification.

6. The success of any in-house training system depends on the trainers. It is just like a school is as good as its teachers. NACE will also help each company train a core group of certified trainers. Trainers who start at the entry level can undergo further training to become a Specialist Trainer and eventually progress to a Master Trainer. So in this way, NACE will serve as the national institute for workplace trainers, in much the same way that the National Institute of Education serves as the training institute for teachers; the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) trains adult trainers; and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC) will train early childhood educators. There is a dedicated institute to train every category of trainers.

7. Finally, NACE will help to spread awareness of best practices in workplace learning, through Learning Journeys to best-in-class companies both locally and overseas. NACE will also conduct applied research and developmental studies on workplace learning, and share the results from these studies with participating companies.

8. Over the next 5 years, NACE aims to help over 1,000 companies transform into workplaces of learning. The companies that NACE engages with will have access to support from Government schemes to help them enhance their HR capabilities and transform their HR practices.

9. NACE is possible only because of the collaboration between NYP, the IHK Akademie (German Chamber of Industry & Commerce) and the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET). Both international partners have a strong reputation for their focus on vocational education and training as well as workplace learning systems. Having worked with notable names such as Nestle, Credit Suisse, Daimler and Siemens, SFIVET and IHK will be exporting their expertise for the first time through the NACE collaboration, bringing the best features of the German and Swiss vocational education and training systems to Singaporean companies. Thank you for this valuable partnership. We have a lot to learn from the German and Swiss systems. This is the future of the Singapore economy – where local companies develop their capabilities, and export their capabilities to the rest of the world. We are a small market. The market is out there, and Singaporeans must be prepared to go out there, like Charles and Keith.

10. This is a home grown company that we are all proud of. It has a significant regional footprint and is doing well. Part of its success is in its clear strategy, execution of that strategy, knowing how it will compete, and then equipping all its staff – from the top to the bottom – with the right competencies and skills to execute and implement the strategy.

11. The launch of NACE today is an important milestone in our SkillsFuture journey. To ensure that Singaporeans can continually upskill and reskill themselves via a comprehensive catalogue of high-quality and industry-relevant training programmes, we have developed a continuing education and training system that rests upon three equally important pillars – company-supported training, industry training providers, and Institutes of Higher Learning. NACE will strengthen the first and most important pillar.

12. Thank you.