The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – Workers are spending less time in training, a decline that began four years ago, according to the latest official figures.

But the Labour Force Survey Supplement on Training has also found that more workers are getting trained.

Almost one-third of the resident workforce, meaning Singaporeans and permanent residents, is attending structured training to improve job skills, a proportion that has been rising since 2011.

These trainees, however, spent an average of 12.2 days each on such training courses in the 12-month period ended June last year, reported the Manpower Ministry survey.

This is a drop from levels in the annual period ended June 2010, when average training days peaked at 17.1. The figure fell to 15.9 days in 2011 and 13.9 days in 2012.

Employers interviewed blame the labour crunch for the slide, saying they cannot spare employees for long periods away from work.

The situation at furniture systems manufacturer Ewins is typical of many small and medium- sized enterprises.

While more employees are being trained, it can no longer send them away for a week at a time, said its marketing director, Mr Mark Yong. They now look for shorter two-day or two half-day courses, he said.

It is a similar situation at the Tung Lok restaurant chain. A 16-week English course it ran in 2012 was reduced to four weeks this year, said the group’s executive chairman, Mr Andrew Tjioe, who is also president of the Restaurant Association of Singapore.

With the tight labour situation in the food and beverage sector, long courses also aggravate worker frustration because “those who are not in training have to take on the work of those who are”, he added.

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