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Speech at Singapore Productivity Conference and Exhibition 2015

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Manpower, Suntec City Convention Centre

Mr Teo Siong Seng,
Singapore Business Federation

Mr Ng Cher Pong,
Chief Executive
Singapore Workforce Development Agency

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

  1. It is my pleasure to join you here at the Singapore Productivity Conference and Exhibition 2015, organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).

    A Productive and Competitive Economy is Crucial
  2. Our ability to be productive and adaptable is critical for Singapore’s competitiveness. This is especially so as Singapore is facing the challenges of a tight labour market – or what we now call, a lean workforce market – and an ageing population. The greatest impact will be felt by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), as the larger companies usually have proper processes and structures that help them, as well as the other resources that they can deploy. SMEs can learn from the larger companies the scientific ways and processes that they put in to redesign jobs and improve the processes. 
  3. Against this backdrop of a difficult operating environment, we need to make sure that the Government and the trade associations and chambers (TACs) work together to help SMEs in the transformation process. The restructuring journey is not going to be an easy one. There is “The Future Economy” Committee that is chaired by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, and a lot of attention will be paid to our SMEs – on how we can operate in this environment and strengthen companies in order to transform, so that our economy can go through this transition. It may not be smooth, but it is a necessary process and journey that we must go through.

    Government Assistance for Business Community
  4. The restructuring journey is not an easy one for many companies, particularly the SMEs. Hence, the Government has put in place a range of schemes to help our SMEs improve productivity and enhance their capabilities.
  5. So I am glad that WDA and SBF have worked on several initiatives. For example, in 2012, WDA and SBF rolled out the Empowering Efficiency and Excellence (3E) Programme to train companies in productivity tools and methodologies. By tapping on 3E, companies were able to identify and embark on productivity projects to reduce manpower and processing errors, thus leading to improvements in productivity and, in some cases, customer satisfaction. I am heartened to know that up to 200 workers and over 28 companies, most of which are SMEs, have benefitted from the 3E Programme. The companies which implemented their proposed productivity projects reported at least 10% improvement in their productivity.
  6. One such company is AMS Marine Pte Ltd, an SME. AMS was looking to maximise profits by reducing operational costs, particularly through reducing the need for additional manpower, raising productivity as well as increasing the speed of order processing and planning. In particular, AMS produces an “equipment damage report” which is frequently behind schedule.
  7. This created a backlog in the workflow process and delayed the repair of the damaged items. With the training and mentorship provided through 3E, AMS was able to identify and address the causes of the delay in producing the report. The time taken to produce the report was reduced by 60% and necessary repair works could start in a timely manner. This resulted in more than $50,000 saved on materials and labour costs every year – a big sum for an SME.

    Launch of Mentorship for Accelerating Productivity Programme
  8. The 3E is a good example of how WDA and SBF have worked together to benefit companies. It is a great example of how TACs and business federations can work together with the Government in this journey. Looking ahead, I encourage more of such collaborations. between the Government and TACs continue to be instrumental in helping our companies transform. Today, I am glad that this partnership has continued, and am pleased to announce the Mentorship for Accelerating Productivity (MAP) Programme, another joint initiative by the WDA and SBF that aims to enhance innovation and productivity in companies. Companies participating in MAP will be taken through productivity concepts that are relevant to their sector. With the aid of a diagnostic tool, they will also be assessed on their overall workflow efficiency.
  9. Thereafter, companies will be placed on a customised mentorship programme. They will be supported by a team of productivity consultants, where selected staff from each company will be groomed to become productivity champions to continually initiate and drive productivity projects. Companies can then capitalise on the initial mentorship, sustain their productivity improvements and build a supportive culture over the long run.
  10. WDA has set aside more than $1 million to train up to 300 workers from 60 companies through the MAP. This is part of WDA’s efforts to support enterprises that transform to become more manpower-lean, and complements the recently launched Lean Enterprise Development (LED) Scheme. As many of you may know, the LED Scheme aims to support progressive SMEs as they transform to become more productive, innovative and manpower-lean, with the ability to offer quality jobs and careers to build a stronger Singaporean core.
  11. I understand that SBF has also launched the Holistic Industry Productivity Scorecard (HIPS). Companies can access a HIPS calculator, via an online portal, that allows them to calculate their labour productivity and nine other productivity indicators aligned to the IMPACT framework by SPRING Singapore. Companies can also check their performance pegged to industry, and track productivity performance year-on-year. With the data collected through HIPS, companies will be able to tap on the MAP programme and tools to effectively address productivity performance gaps, in order to achieve a sustainable and productive workplace. I strongly urge companies to find out more about these programmes and make the most of them.

  12. With the Government, our TACs and business community working closely together in our national restructuring efforts, I am confident we can overcome challenges together and secure opportunities in this new global economy.
  13. I wish everyone an insightful and productive session ahead.

Thank you.