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Speech at 2nd Lean Enterprise Development Forum 2016

Mr Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Manpower, Lifelong Learning Institute

Mr Chan Chong Beng,

Chairman of Workforce Advancement Federation,

Governing Council and Members of the Federation,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning

  1. I am pleased to join you today at the second Lean Enterprise Development or LED Forum by the Workforce Advancement Federation (WAF).
  2. The first Forum was held in February this year, and since then, local SME leaders have been developing new projects under the LED Scheme, which assists progressive SMEs willing to take the first step towards becoming manpower lean. I am glad it is picking up speed and there is more focus on this.
  3. I am also very glad to see that some of the software are being put into use especially the 3-D Scan Visualiser that will help our industry such as the interior design to move forward in a manpower lean manner. This morning’s unveiling of the 3-D Scan Visualiser by WAF is a good example of a LED project by SMEs which demonstrates the spirit of “Co-opetition” – Cooperation or Collaboration to Compete effectively.
  4. This, to me, means bringing all the industry players and competitors coming together and working together as a whole. We are seeing more and more of that now some of them are using the strategies of centralisation, whether if it is a centralised kitchen or centralised operations.
  5. It is good to come together to use the cluster approach to centralise some of the operations and at the same time it is also good to have a software solution platform to bring all the companies to sign up to bring benefit to the individual company.
  6. Recently, about 13 to 14 Indian restaurants came together to centralise some of their processes in the kitchen. In centralised kitchen, there are time slots where certain timings are allocated for work done for different restaurants.
  7. I think this is great example of how companies can come together and work together. From what I understand, they have experienced a much reduced cost per unit. At the same time, new restaurants are coming in to sign up with this central processing unit (CPU), which is owned by the initial founders of the CPU. New companies that sign up pay a lower cost for their company and at the same time generate revenue for the CPU. Those initial founders of the company will get a lower cost per unit preparation of their ingredients and for their food.
  8. Another example of competitors coming together to cope with the manpower lean climate - more than 30 childcare centres came together to outsource food preparation to a caterer. This helps the centres cut down on manpower and space usage because once the kitchen is centralised and outsourced then there is an additional space for use.
  9. WAF was set up by Chong Beng when he had an initial idea to create a movement for companies to become efficient and productive. At the same time, do something that is impactful in terms of skilling workers, scaling up and upgrading the industry as a whole.
  10. This 3D scan visualiser is an excellent start for software platforms that can help the interior design sector. He managed to get hold a group of 25 local SMEs from the design services industry to sign up and use this software platform.
  11. The project is an example of industry transformation that we are looking at.  It will benefit this group of SMEs in the interior design and construction sector and it will be classified under the LED programme.
  12. This initiative for the 3-D Scan Visualiser is funded by SPRING Singapore’s Capability Development Grant and the Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme, and is a result of substantial research into user requirements. 
  13. With this visualiser, man-hours spent on site-measurement can be reduced from four hours to 1½ hours. It is great to see that all this reduction in time allows more productive time and utilisation of hours for the workers.
  14. The innovation of new technology or processes not only benefit the companies, it also enhances the performance of the workforce and raise the quality of jobs to make the industry more attractive.  
  15. Employers can focus on developing their workforce, training and developing internal capabilities, and making their jobs more attractive to the local workforce. Over time, this will help them attract and retain talent.
  16. I am thus pleased to announce that Workforce Singapore is appointing four Programme Managers under the P-Max programme, which was developed to help SMEs recruit, train, manage and retain their newly-hired Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) more effectively.  
  17. The programme managers are:
    1. Workforce Advancement Federation (WAF);
    2. Singapore Productivity Association (SPA);
    3. Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) and;
    4. U SME (an NTUC initiative)  
  18. The Programme Managers will help expand and strengthen the outreach for the P-Max programme, to cover more sectors and assist more SMEs with their PMET hiring needs and adoption of progressive HR practices.  
  19. P-Max will also help PMETs access good jobs in SMEs, and facilitate their transition into the SME working environment.  
  20. I understand that the 25 SMEs who are participating in this LED project have also expressed their support to participate in the P-Max programme.   I would like to take this opportunity to commend them for being forward-looking, and thank them for giving the opportunity to the PMETs that might be placed in their companies.
  21. In closing, I would like to emphasise that innovation and talent development should continue to be a core focus and value for SMEs, to ensure that they are able to grow in a manpower-lean manner.  The key focus for us is to also to strengthen our SMEs.
  22. As our economy goes through an extended period of slowing growth, we have to look at different ways to revamp our business model.
  23. I strongly encourage SMEs to repeatedly ask yourselves how you can create impact through innovation in your productivity initiatives.  In doing so, you will find yourselves adapting naturally and successfully to the ever-changing economic environment.
  24. Thank you and I wish all of you a fruitful session today at the WAF LED Forum.