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Changes to grant scheme aim to help firms avoid tech 'bottleneck'

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Changes to the Enterprise Development Grant (EDG) are aimed at helping companies have the right manpower in place when they adopt new technology and avoid a "bottleneck", Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said yesterday.

From April next year, companies receiving the funding will have to commit to providing benefits for workers, which could include wage increases or support for older staff.

Speaking on the sidelines of the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) Supplies for Asian Markets Conference at Sentosa Cove, Dr Koh said changes to the grant were aimed at ensuring transformations are sustainable.

He also highlighted that the EDG would include an element of flexibility and worker benefits need not just be pay rises but could also include things like job redesign.

If companies focused on new technology without upgrading workers' skills, he said, "the ultimate bottleneck (faced) will be the capacity and capability of the workforce to leverage on the technology and take it forward".

Asked whether changes to the grant focused on workers' or companies' interests, Dr Koh said considering worker outcomes helped companies in the long run.

He added that if the capability of a company's workforce was going to become an issue, it was better to think about how to improve workers' skills in the early phase of planning so that transformation would not be a "start-stop" journey. - THE STRAITS TIMES