SINGAPORE: Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said Singapore must be bold about experimenting new ways to make the workplace a learning place, and suggested on-the-job learning.
Speaking at the 10th Singapore HR Awards on Friday (July 11), Mr Heng said on-the-job learning lets employers match what employees are doing and learning directly with the strategy and operations of companies.
He said the mentoring process builds bonds and esprit de corps in the teams. It also helps staff to progress in their skills and do a better job. In turn, employers can better reward and retain their teams, creating a virtuous cycle.
He stressed that companies that do not promote on-the-job learning are losing an opportunity.
“Indeed, in most contexts, the best place to do practical, applicable learning is really the workplace. Each day at work offers an opportunity unlike any other to learn on-the-job,” said Mr Heng.
“I think we need to make a skills and learning breakthrough in Singapore. We must place just as much, if not more, emphasis on learning outside the classroom, in other words, learning on-the-job. The breakthrough must be to make this opportunity concrete and meaningful for every worker. Every person coming to work must have the opportunity to learn, substantially and continually, on the job.”
Mr Heng added: “Learning must be lifelong, and learning must be lifesmart. To be lifelong is to spread learning throughout one’s life. Learning ought to happen not just in our early years, just in school, but at work, throughout life, every chance we get.
“To be lifesmart is to go beyond booksmarts and even beyond streetsmarts. It is to put booksmarts to practical, impactful use, in a streetsmart way, making full use of the complexities of real-life challenges to stimulate continual learning and growth. If we can work together to create a total environment for everyone to be a lifelong and lifesmart, learner, we can make a skills and learning breakthrough.”
The Singapore HR Awards celebrate leading practices in the management of human capital that contributes to business success. The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) was this year’s biggest winner. It was conferred the Corporate HR Champion for winning the Corporate HR award three times in five years.
ITE won the Corporate HR Award this year along with SingTel, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and KPMG Services.
A total of 115 awards were given out at the ceremony held at The Ritz-Carlton.