Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Commemoration of 25th Anniversary of the Certified On-The-Job Training Centre Scheme

Speech by SMS Koh Poh Koon at the Commemoration of 25th Anniversary of the Certified On-The-Job Training Centre Scheme

Mr Aw York Bin, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Industry), ITE

Certified On-The-Job Training Centre (COJTC) Partners,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1 Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to be here with you to commemorate the 25th anniversary of ITE’s Certified On-the-Job Training Centre (COJTC) scheme.

As we transform our industries and enterprises, our workforce must transform as well.

2 This is a milestone anniversary for ITE’s COJTC scheme. We can all be very proud that the COJTC has prevailed for a good 25 years and remains relevant today. It shows how Singapore has consistently invested in developing our people, through our institutions like ITE. As a small country with limited resources, we have always known that we need to maximise the skills and potential of our people. This is critical for Singapore to grow and prosper. Thus, we have invested heavily in our education and training systems to ensure that Singaporeans can reach their full potential.

3 We are now at a critical stage of economic development. For the past 50 years, we have benefited from free trade and increasing economic integration. Together with our highly educated workforce, stable political climate and support for innovation, we have punched above our weight to become one of the most advanced economies in the world.

4 However, we are seeing changes in the way the world works. There is mounting uncertainty in the global economic order. The pace of technological disruptions is also accelerating. The old way of doing things may not work anymore. Those who cannot adapt will fall behind, while those who seize opportunities will find success. That is why we launched the 23 ITMs to help our industries and enterprises to transform.

5 This effort can only succeed if we transform our workforce, too. In particular, as more companies leverage technology to transform their business operations, our workers must learn new ways of working, use these new technologies, and become more effective at their jobs.

6 We are fortunate in Singapore to have a strong system in place that can enable workforce transformation. The Government, Labour Movement and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) work closely together to train our workers.

7 However, a critical ingredient for success is that employers are involved. In fact, employers need to take the lead. Employers are the first to know what skills your workers need, and have a natural interest to ensure your workers are equipped with these skills. The success of your business depends on it.

8 Sometimes, it can be difficult to send workers for external training due to time and operational constraints. External trainers may also not be as familiar with the company’s needs. Here, On-the-Job training (OJT) can be very useful. Training can be done on-site. Furthermore, companies can tap on experienced staff to conduct the training. This can improve learning outcomes, and is also good for employee morale, as your staff now feel uniquely valued.

9 ITE, in particular, has played an important role in championing vocational training since its formation in 1992. The COJTC scheme, started in 1994, was pivotal in helping companies build a strong training culture and in-house training capabilities. Through this scheme, ITE works closely with companies to build up structured and comprehensive on-the-job training systems. Let me mention two companies that are exemplary in their implementation of in-house OJT systems.

10 PEC Ltd is among the pioneers involved in developing structured OJT blueprints and training their employees through the COJTC scheme. It was certified as a COJTC in 1995, and has since been building up its workers’ capabilities through structured in-house OJTs. The company has grown since its inception in 1982 to become one of the largest single-source maintenance service provider in Singapore, providing a comprehensive range of plant and terminal engineering services.

11 Another key partner is Jurong Port Pte Ltd, which joined the COTJC scheme in 2009. It has been very active in adopting the COJTC framework for their in-house training, which places emphasis on enabling its employees to keep pace with technological advancements, building new skills, and helping them to stay relevant and employable. As a result, its waterfront cargo handling capabilities have achieved greater productivity. Currently, the company has six training programs accredited through the scheme, and is actively developing more in areas such as Ops & Technology and Technical Services.

12 I understand the organisers have arranged for several other key partners to share how they have successfully implemented structured OJTs and the benefits of building such in-house capabilities. I am sure their sharing will enrich your understanding of vocational training.

13 For those of you who are already partners of the COJTC scheme, I commend you for your commitment. To our friends here who have yet to embark on your in-house OJT journey, I encourage you to come on board. It will be a rewarding experience.

Government, IHLs and NTUC will continue to partner employers to invest in Singaporeans.

14 Going forward, Government will continue to invest heavily in worker training, in partnership with companies, the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and the Labour Movement. For example:

i. SSG and the IHLs have worked together and launched the SkillsFuture Series, which is a curated list of short, industry relevant training programmes that focus on emerging skills, such as in data analytics, tech-enabled services, and advanced manufacturing. They are suitable for Singaporeans who are keen to either gain a basic understanding or deepen their skills in these areas.

ii. We have also enhanced the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) earlier this year to include a SkillsFuture Training Subsidy to support employer-led training. Companies can tap on this subsidy to upskill their employees, on top of existing course fee subsidies and grant caps.

iii. The Labour Movement has partnered companies to set up Company Training Committees (CTCs) to drive workforce transformation and skills development. The unions, through the CTCs, will work with the management to identify skills gaps and the training the workers require. They will then collaborate with the relevant training experts to drive company-based training programmes so that the workers can benefit from the company’s transformation through better wages, welfare and work prospects. The Labour Movement aims to set up 1,000 CTCs over the next three years, reaching out to 330,000 workers.

15 These are but a few examples of the ongoing efforts. We will continue to build on these strong foundations, to offer a bright future for Singaporeans.


16 Let me conclude with my heartiest congratulations to ITE and the COJTC companies on this 25th anniversary. By working together, we – government, employers, schools, unions and workers – can take full advantage of the opportunities the economy presents us. Thank you.
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