The workers will get an average wage increase of 5.2 per cent above their annual increment.
When Grace Cheong, 60, first started working at Dr.Bags – a luxury and leather bags cleaning and maintenance service provider – in 2015, she had no experience using computers whatsoever.
The former stay-at-home mum turned retail sales associate had to enter orders onto sheets of paper manually – a process she recalled was long and difficult to track.
“If I was on holiday, and another colleague needed to check on an order processed by me, it would be difficult. They might even have to call me to check,” she shared.
Meanwhile, Nur Dian Farisha Ramli, 19, joined the company in the early 2020s as a retail service intern while she was undertaking her NITEC studies in retail services.
The introverted teen had a great interest in the industry but was still determining if she was right for a customer-facing position.
“I tend to get nervous when speaking publicly or dealing with customers,” she admitted.
However, with some help from NTUC and the company’s union – The Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU) – both Grace and Nur Dian got to transform their working experience at Dr.Bags, improving their productivity, their work prospects, and their wages in the process.
Some 1,494 workers from 84 companies – including Dr.Bags – will soon get an increase in wages after their companies tapped on NTUC’s Company Training Committee (CTC) Grant to transform how they work.
These companies have committed to increasing their workers’ wages by an average of 5.2 per cent above their annual increment.
NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng gave an update on the CTC Grant take-up on 16 November 2023 when he visited Dr.Bags headquarters in Ubi.
He said: “Companies are using the CTC Grant to improve their business operations and train their workers. The bosses are happy, the customers are happy, and most importantly, the workers are happy.
“NTUC calls on more companies to step forward so that we can work with you to support your business transformations and keep your workers happy.”
He added that as of 31 October 2023, over 1,700 CTCs have been formed by NTUC and its affiliated unions, which has benefited over 123,000 workers.
NTUC is targeting to form 2,500 CTCs by 2025.
Dr.Bags formed a CTC with The Singapore Manual and Mercantile Workers’ Union (SMMWU) in February 2023.
The company then embarked on an Operation and Technology Roadmap (OTR) facilitated by NTUC to help it leverage technology, redesign jobs, and reskill its workforce.
Through the OTR, Dr.Bags charted a five-year strategic business roadmap, and it identified the need for a customized Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to enhance its business and manpower capabilities and improve productivity.
Dr.Bags then subsequently applied for the CTC Grant, which was approved in October 2023.
With this successful application, the company has committed to providing employees who have taken on new skills or redesigned jobs with a 5 per cent wage increase.
Dr.Bags Co-founder Lynn Kee shared that forming a CTC with SMMWU and embarking on the OTR with NTUC has been a game-changer for the company.
She said: “These steps have turbocharged our ability to work smarter by integrating digital tools, boosting our productivity, streamlining processes and optimising our operational efficiency. Recognising the value of our team, especially as a leader in our unique restoration field, we're thrilled to use the CTC Grant to further develop and uplift our workforce."
Though it took her a while to get used to the new ERP system, Grace shared that she has since learnt how to use the ERP system effectively and is even able to show new joiners how to navigate the system.
“Everything is now so simple, just click, click, click. [With the new ERP] I can now focus more on customer service instead of being tied up in administrative work,” she said.
As for Nur Dian, she underwent a transformative role shift and is now a colouring apprentice, where she is learning the art and skill of restoring leather to their original glory.
She is currently on track to a promotion to a junior colouring specialist by the end of 2023.
“With the CTC, I now have a clearer picture of my career within Dr.Bags,” she shared.