Having talents key for start-ups to be successful
Labour chief introduces ways to train more workers for start-ups at tech trade conference
Singapore can be the start-up capital of the world, but it needs to get the foundation right, said labour chief Chan Chun Sing yesterday.
And one of the greatest challenges for start-ups is the availability of trained workers, said Mr Chan in his opening address at yesterday's Tech in Asia Conference at Suntec Convention Centre.
The tech trade conference is a triannual event that has been held in Singapore, Tokyo and Jakarta. It is in its 6th edition and is organised by regional media start-up Tech in Asia.
The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) also inked a memorandum of understanding with Tech in Asia yesterday to strengthen support for the start-up community and better reach out to them.
In his opening address, Mr Chan, a Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, spoke about the need to "short circuit" the speed at which skilled workers can be deployed and hired by start-ups.
"A traditional education system takes too long to fulfil the needs of an emerging start-up," he said.
It takes about a year or more to roll out a module and a few months more to get workers to go for training, he said.
"But in today's... fast-moving environment, we need the workers to be trained, to be equipped fast... Three months can cause a start-up to go into the dustbin of history," he said.
NTUC, through its Education and Training Fund (NETF), is looking to invest in quicker and new methods for workers to learn, he said.
If we get this right, we will be able to leapfrog many other countries in providing the necessary trained workers for the start-up companies.Labour chief Chan Chun Sing
Investment income from the fund, which was earlier reported to have raised $100 million, will be used to subsidise course fees for union members for more than 3,200 training courses, capped at $250 a year.
Mr Chan also suggested learning modules that can be downloaded and accessed on the go.
"This is where the NETF hopes to capitalise a new form of learning to complement our conventional form of learning.
"If we get this right, we will be able to leapfrog many other countries in providing the necessary trained workers for the start-up companies," he said.
Start-ups The New Paper spoke to at the trade conference also highlighted the need for more local talents.
Mr Kester Poh, co-founder of chatbot development firm Aichat, said only one out of 20 applicants to his company is Singaporean.
"Finding a local worker with the right skills is a big challenge, especially when talent in the global artificial intelligence field is already rare," he said.
Mr Zack Yang, chief operating officer of Fomopay, a one-stop app for e-payment services such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, said firms could also look to develop their own talents.
Mr Quek Qi Ping, creative operations manager of travel planning site Packdat, said: "Start-ups are not always looking for people who can do everything, but those who can think out of the box. We have seen many students who have portfolios and experience, and that is as important."