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Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at The Launch of The Skills Framework For The Wholesale Trade

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at The Launch of The Skills Framework For The Wholesale Trade


Mr. Patrick Tay, Assistant Secretary – General, NTUC
Mr. Yeo Guat Kwang, Assistant Director – General, NTUC
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you today at the wholesale trade career fair to officiate the launch of the Skills Framework for the Wholesale Trade. I am heartened to know that there are about 20 companies participating in today’s event offering more than 100 jobs for our participants. Thank you to those who have come together to make this event possible.

Our operating environment is changing

2. Last year, we launched the industry transformation map for the wholesale trade sector, which is a key sector of our economy. This sector represented about 16% of our Gross Domestic Product in 2017, and is one of the largest contributors to employment at 320,000 jobs. It is also one of the six growth sectors identified to have strong potential for job creation.

3. Like many other industries, the wholesale trade sector faces disruption from the advancement of digital technology. Increasingly, more companies are looking to adopt digital technologies such as automation, data analytics and online platforms to drive growth and expansion. What this means is that our workers must pick up new relevant skills and keep pace with the changing needs of the industry.

The Government is committed to help our workers adapt to the industry’s changing needs

4. It is only natural that workers are concerned about job opportunities and security. The Government recognises this concern, and has put in place various manpower initiatives to better support and prepare our workers for the future. The suite of Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) under the Workforce Singapore (WSG)’s Adapt and Grow initiative, are examples of such ongoing efforts. In particular, 

a. WSG has worked with Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) to develop a new PCP for Wholesale Trade Professionals. Through this PCP, participants will be equipped with technical skillsets in blockchain, data analytics and robotic process automation to enable them to take on new roles in an increasingly digitalised workplace. Companies who need to redeploy their existing workers to fill these roles in new business units as part of their expansion can also make use of this PCP to do so. This is in addition to the existing PCP for Southeast Asia Ready Talents, also developed in conjunction with Enterprise Singapore and SBF to sharpen the participants’ sales and marketing knowledge in Southeast Asian markets. 

b. The Singapore Management University (SMU) also has a PCP for mid-career professionals looking for a career in international trading. Supported by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Academy, Enterprise Singapore and WSG, the programme offers mentorship, on-the-job training and digitalisation-relevant curriculum to participants seeking to develop technical competencies and skillsets that are relevant to the industry.

5. An example of an individual who has benefitted from the PCP is Mr Kenny Ang. Through SMU’s International Trading PCP, Kenny was able to make a career switch to the wholesale trade sector. He is now a Marketing Executive in Raduga, a company that specialises in the wholesale distribution of mobile phones. He has been with Raduga’s Myanmar office for more than a year now, a position which provides him with exposure to our regional markets. I am pleased to note that as of the first half of 2018, more than 60 companies have come on board these PCPs, offering training and career opportunities in the wholesale trade sector for more than 230 mid-career professionals like Kenny. I urge more companies to partner us in these programmes.

6. Apart from manpower training programmes, Enterprise Singapore has also worked with WSG and NTUC’s e2i to introduce the Wholesale Trade Placement Accelerator. Launched in May this year, the Placement Accelerator will help to ease the job-matching process and improve placement efforts between employers and job seekers.

Launch of the Skills Framework for Wholesale Trade

7. While the Government is committed to supporting our companies and workers through manpower development efforts, we need the active participation and collective efforts of companies and workers to stay ahead of the curve. The goal is to have agile businesses and workers who are committed to their own training and development.

8. To support this effort, I am pleased to launch the Skills Framework for Wholesale Trade today, which is developed by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), WSG and Enterprise Singapore, in consultation with our industry partners, education institutions and union. The Skills Framework provides key information on the wholesale trade sector, including career pathways, jobs roles as well as both existing and emerging technical skills and competencies required. Companies can refer to the Skills Framework to formulate their talent management plan and skill development strategies. For individuals, the Skills Framework will be a useful reference tool to identify the skillsets needed for their desired jobs, and the relevant training programmes that will assist them in their career development.

9. It is heartening to know that companies such as Agrocorp are keen to use the Skills Framework to strengthen their existing competency framework. This is a step in the right direction. But to further encourage companies’ adoption of the Skills Framework, Enterprise Singapore will partner U SME to help companies better understand the Skills Framework, and to provide guidance on how to use it to develop training roadmaps and chart employees’ career pathways. More importantly, the collaboration with the union will enable us to reach out to at-risk workers more quickly to re-train and re-deploy them to new job roles. 

10. I am also glad to note that a group of 18 companies have committed to be part of the Wholesale Trade Leaders Circle; a community of company leaders who are advocates of progressive human resource and manpower practices in the sector. Jointly developed by Enterprise Singapore and U SME, the initiative brings together company leaders to work together with the Government on training and reskilling efforts for our workers. 


11. I would like to thank our industry partners, education partners and union for their strong support in developing the Skills Framework, which is an important part of the industry transformation map. The development of human capital has been at the heart of our past transformation efforts, and will continue to remain so. I look forward to working closely with all stakeholders to make this a successful journey.

12. I wish everyone a fruitful day ahead. Thank you.

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