Pmets � To �b� Or Not To �b�, Going Back To Business School

In this current worldwide recession two government agencies namely Sentosa and the Workforce Development Agency are introducing new schemes in order to help the Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) survive this crisis. Introduction of training courses for them and arranging for loans to bear the expenses for training are such two methods. This will enable them to switch over to a different nature of job. MOM and WDA said that the are going to introduce more options progressively in the future too.

On Sunday at a tripartite forum between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and some 550 union and business leaders, the PSP was announced. This is the Professional Skills Programme (PSP) which is eventually going to bring together all ‘current skills’ upgrading’ and job assistance schemes in place.

Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience or SPUR is going to provide funds for all such courses offered under PSP. Besides helping PMETs switch to new occupations such as educators, hr professionals, registered nurses and pre-school teachers, PSP will also have skills upgrading courses to help PMETs improve in their specialty. Upon completion of these part-time courses, students will received a professional, graduate or postgraduate diploma award.

Professionals working in Financial sector can take a training course on Risk Management and/or product control at the Risk Management Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Financial Training Institute at the Singapore Management University (SMU).

Engineering professionals in the pharmaceutical and biologics sectors can be trained in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (Validation) to become a validation specialist, through another Specialised Training Programme.

A tertiary upgrading for PMETs can also be done through degree and post-graduate courses under the enhanced SPUR programme. Interviews with candidates of executive and graduate programmes shows that indeed there is a strong trend of busy professionals and business leaders heading back to schoo. For Mr Frank Thong, Business Director of Sun T Synergies, it was a well deserved reward for the years of hard work. �Going back to school has always been at the back of my mind and now with the current economic slow down, I see this as an opportune time for me to take a step back from the day to day operations and go for new challenges. The Executive master of marketing programme forces me to shift my thinking paradigms, the case studies and networking has been nothing less than phenomenal. I should have done this years ago, the knowledge I have acquired will certainly help me and my organization propel forward in tough global conditions like today. US graduate schools including Chicago and Baruch College, CUNY and State university of New York has also reiterate their strong commitment to provide the best in class graduate education. In view of the increase demand for quality American graduate education, Chicago has move to their new campus in Demsey road with twice the capacity of its current campus whilst baruch college, the city university of new York has established a city campus in the heart of orchard road to cater to the growing demands for its range of specialized master programs.

Some of the programmes which are designed to be introduced within few months are the Master of Science Programme in Integrated Circuit Design at NTU-TUM (Technical University of Munich), aimed at integrated circuit design engineers. Another Double Master of Science Programme in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at NUS-Georgia Institute of Technology for logistics and supply chain specialists has also been incepted. PMETs have an option to go for leadership and management skills training too.

WDA plan to organize career workshops for PMETs which is going to impart knowledge and guidance to build up communication skills, networking skills, resume writing, and to fare well in interviews through PSP.

But there are some problems in implementation of SPUR. There are requirements of co-payment. This strictness of a 10% co-payment of course fees does not take into consideration the upfront fees that trainees must pay. This may be difficult for many, as they don’t have any concrete source of income. The Ministry of Manpower or the agency has to take the responsibility to provide trainees with interest-free loans for the co-paid amount, with repayments in installments and the interest to be paid after the trainee finds a job, which once more, shall be monitored through the CPF system.

Professional Conversion Programme (PCPs) will be unattractive to most retrenched PMETs. However, some of the retrenched PMETs may have skills that have become obsolete will be benefited through PCPs. But most of them will have skills that are still an asset. As they are retrenched because of the economic downturn, the PMETs might consider switching over to new jobs through the PSP.

It has been decided by the authorities that 100 jobless executives will be given about S$1.7 million in a year so that they can go back to school. A stipend of about S$1,400 per month will also be given to them. The decision was taken by the afore-mentioned two government agencies to help mid-career professionals avoid the direct impact of the current recession.

Some of the sectors are still hiring in this state of global economic crisis. A major one is the tourism sector, which according to MOM, will create around 25,000 jobs over the next few years in Singapore alone � a result of the major developments in the Integrated Resorts.

Keeping in mind these developments, the Manpower Ministry has started a new training programme to help jobless executives make this sustainable career-switch.

In the meeting, the acting Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong said: �Through these courses, we enhance their employability and their mobility. So even if they start the job that they may not particularly like, they can learn to like the job. Also, they may continue to look for opportunities for upward mobility as well as for more opportunities in other sectors.”

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