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Workforce Singapore and Singapore Business Federation Charts Human Capital and Business Transformation through IHCI

Tuesday, 14 July 2021 [Singapore]
– The manufacturing industry is a key pillar of Singapore’s economy, contributing 21.5 percent of Singapore’s GDP in 2021. It employs approximately 12 percent of Singapore’s total workforce. Under the five Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) for the sectors within the manufacturing cluster, the adoption of Industry 4.0 (i4.0) technologies has been identified as one of the key enablers, to spur growth and enable manufacturing companies to develop new competitive advantages.

In tandem with leveraging i4.0 technologies, companies also need to ensure their employees have the right skillsets to support this transformation. The adoption of i4.0 processes requires employees to be more highly skilled and to be able to handle complex tasks. This will enhance the attractiveness of careers in the manufacturing industry and in turn, create better job opportunities for Singaporeans.

Workforce Singapore (WSG), in partnership with the Singapore Business Federation (SBF), launched the Industry 4.0 Human Capital Initiative (IHCI) in March 2020 to help companies successfully implement and scale i4.0 solutions for business transformation, and put in place a human capital roadmap to upskill workers during the transformation. Supported by the Economic Development Board (EDB), Enterprise Singapore (ESG), JTC Corporation (JTC) and industry partners, about 90 companies have benefited from the IHCI to date. They received practical recommendations on how to maximise productivity gains and have  identified processes where they can potentially achieve up to S$60 million in cost savings and increased revenue.

Over 280 roles, including those in traditional manufacturing such as supervisors, operations managers, and engineers within these companies have also been identified for redesign, to take on higher-value tasks, potentially uplifting the jobs of more than 1,500 workers.

IHCI’s multi-pronged approach

The IHCI adopts a multi-pronged approach to drive human capital transformation along with i4.0 adoption. The programme starts with the IHCI Self-Help Portal, which helps companies analyse and identify gaps in their human capital practices and digital processes. It is followed by the eight-week IHCI Enabler Programme where companies are guided by dedicated experts from McKinsey & Company and EY to tackle priority areas such as asset efficiency, labour productivity, inventory optimisation, planning efficiency and quality performance. Companies can also trial i4.0 technologies on their shop floor and receive customised change management advice, human capital practice assessment, and a phased i4.0 roadmap to better support their workforce during the transformation.

Community of Practice (COP) as the third prong under IHCI

To help companies scale their i4.0 solutions, IHCI is also expanding its support by inducting IHCI Enabler alumni companies in an exclusive Community of Practice (COP). After completing the IHCI Enabler Programme, companies can spend the next six to twelve months exploring fast-track roll-out solutions in a peer-to-peer learning environment, while receiving customised advice from leading Industry 4.0 companies including Auk, Arcstone, and KNOW. They can also tap on the Institute for Human Resource Professionals for advice on human capital-related initiatives.

In addition, the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy (AMTA) has committed to support the COP, by linking IHCI Enabler alumni companies with their consultants, training providers and solution providers. 

The COP will get a boost from the manufacturing ecosystem in the Jurong Innovation District (JID). With its full suite of technology and training providers, research institutions and factories of the future, the JID ecosystem is well placed to collaborate with and support IHCI participants. This will help enhance the competitiveness of our manufacturing companies and strengthen Singapore’s position as an advanced manufacturing hub.

WSG’s Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for Industry 4.0 Professionals/Executives and Associates aims to equip PMETs and shop floor operators with  the required knowledge and skills to take on higher-value roles and i4.0 job roles within the manufacturing sector. Members of the COP can enrol their employees in this PCP, by submitting resources developed during the IHCI Enabler Programme such as the business transformation plan, job redesign plan, and the i4.0 implementation roadmap during the application process.

Mr Tan Choon Shian, Chief Executive of Workforce Singapore, said, “The shift towards i4.0 means manufacturers must adopt a new way of working, automating processes, and making data-driven conclusions to optimise and maximise output and production. Along with digital transformation, jobs need to be redesigned with the intent to build up human capital capability to support the change. By embarking on IHCI, companies will have the practical know-how to implement i4.0 technologies in tandem with charting a strategic HR roadmap for holistic transformation. Companies will not only reap practical rewards such as improved production and cost savings, but also a skilled workforce to take on jobs of the future.”

SBF’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Lam Yi Young said, “The IHCI was developed to help companies adopt a holistic approach to i4.0 transformation. We are glad that participating companies have found the programme useful and have achieved encouraging productivity gains or cost savings through the adoption of i4.0 solutions.

McKinsey Senior Partner Matteo Mancini said, “i4.0’s importance has accelerated as companies seek to grow their productivity and their resilience to crisis. In a McKinsey survey, 62% of Southeast Asian companies said i4.0 had been critical to their COVID-19 response, and 63% said these technologies will be more valuable post-pandemic. Without the right skills or human capital strategies in place, however, i4.0 adoption cannot succeed. IHCI aims to provide companies with practical, customized guidance on how to build, redesign, and engage their workforce for effective transformation.”

EY Partner and ASEAN Workforce Advisory Leader Samir Bedi said, “Technologies such as artificial intelligence, collaborative robots and automation that generate new tasks and new demand for human skills should be encouraged. A growing concern, however, is whether the workforce is prepared for such changes. To help employees navigate the new ways of working, digitalisation efforts need to be coupled with the redesign of impacted jobs. Impacted workers need to be matched with new, complementary jobs swiftly. This minimises the depreciation of skills and morale loss from prolonged displacement, while building on individuals’ existing capabilities and experiences. The IHCI provides such guidance for redistribution of labour along with upskilling, to encourage a more adaptive workforce.”

JTC’s Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Industry Cluster Group Mr Alvin Tan said, “JTC strongly supports the IHCI and the companies through their i4.0 journey. With the Jurong Innovation District, the robust advanced manufacturing ecosystem within will further strengthen the Community of Practice. With the community coming together, companies can gain ready access to the i4.0 training and capability development, and technology expertise to take their business transformation efforts to the next level and capture new opportunities in the market.”

Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng went on a learning journey to Souperfoods, one of the home-grown enterprises that participated in the IHCI Enabler Programme and interacted with several other IHCI Enabler alumni companies.

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