FOR Mr Brian Lim, 33, a senior retail supervisor at Tangs department store, training courses do not need to have huge payoffs.
In a Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) course Mr Lim took last year, it was the little details that stood out, he said. 'One tip was that instead of just saying 'Good morning', adding 'Welcome to Tangs' could give a better impression.'
He is one of a growing number of employees who find such WSQ courses useful, according to a survey by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).
The WSQ scheme, started in 2005 and run by the WDA, comprises subsidised courses that result in qualifications such as certificates and diplomas.
Of the 12,500 employees surveyed last year, 79 per cent found such courses useful, up from 75 per cent in 2010. More also said they performed better at work and were more motivated.
But their salaries did not seem to benefit as much. Less than a fifth of those trained got a pay rise last year, down from a quarter who did in 2010.
But this does not seem to have dampened employees' spirits - 90 per cent said they would continue going for WSQ training.
Said Mr Lim, who did not receive a pay rise or promotion as a direct result of his training: 'It's not about that. It's about additional skills and knowledge.'
Ninety-five per cent of companies surveyed said they would continue sending their staff for training. For those who did last year, productivity rose 70 per cent.
More companies also said that their quality of service went up after employees were trained.
One such firm is Wing Tai Retail, which runs stores for clothing brands such as G2000 and Dorothy Perkins. It received fewer complaints and more compliments after it began sending its frontline staff for WSQ courses, the company said.
Of the 2,200 companies surveyed, most said their employees applied the skills taught in the training courses, and that they performed better.
The WSQ training framework 'now enjoys greater stakeholder buy-in because more companies and workers are giving positive feedback and experiencing positive outcomes', said WDA chief executive Wong Hong Kuan.
A related WDA survey found that more firms are taking up the framework, whether by including its qualifications in hiring requirements, or sending staff for training. Last year, 26 per cent of companies had adopted it, up from 20.6 per cent the year before.
And participation may rise as awareness does: only 43 per cent of firms now know that WSQ exists, the survey found.