In an effort to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their digital transformation, Google Singapore has announced several new initiatives at its first Grow with Google for SMEs event. These initiatives include the launch of the Google Career Certificates (GCC) scholarship program for SMEs, supported by Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) and SGTech. The program aims to provide 15,000 GCC scholarships to 300 local businesses.
The GCC scholarships will offer SMEs free access to flexible online training programs, allowing them to upskill in areas such as digital marketing, e-commerce, data analytics, IT support, and more. These industry-recognized credentials can be earned through part-time studies within three to six months. SMEs from various industries, including retail, tech, and travel, can apply for the scholarships through this designated link.
Without adequate support, many SMEs, particularly those considered “digital starters,” may struggle to acquire and retain tech talent, potentially hindering their growth. Given that local SMEs employ over 70% of the workforce and contribute to more than 40% of Singapore’s GDP, addressing the existing digitalization gaps is crucial for the sustainable growth of the country’s digital economy.
Ben King, Country Managing Director of Google Singapore, emphasized the urgency of providing accessible training resources to support SMEs. He stated, “To fully unlock the potential of Singapore’s economy, we must ensure that SMEs and their employees have a chance to pick up new skills and knowledge to stay relevant in a fast-changing landscape.” A recent Google study found that workplace training and online learning are significant sources of skills attainment among Singapore employees, with many relying on government awareness programs for information. Public-private initiatives like this can foster greater awareness and provide more learning opportunities for SMEs, enabling them to pursue their growth ambitions locally, regionally, and globally.
Since the launch of GCC, its part-time training program has empowered learners to earn job-ready credentials while balancing full-time employment. Internal data reveals that 6 in 10 GCC graduates were working full-time while completing their certificates. Furthermore, 7 in 10 graduates reported positive career outcomes, such as salary increases, within six months of completing the program.
Expanding the Google Career Certificates Program
Recognizing the growing interest among local businesses to expand beyond Singapore’s borders, Google plans to expand its GCC and scholarship offerings to include advanced Certificates in Data Analytics and Business Intelligence. The new certificates, designed and taught by Google experts, will provide participants with hands-on experience using tools such as BigQuery, Python, and Tableau. These skills will enable individuals to pursue opportunities in data analytics careers, gain a competitive edge, and assume more responsibilities in their respective fields.
The Google Business Intelligence Certificate equips graduates with the ability to transform data into actionable insights, enabling them to create processes and information channels that benefit organizations. Roles such as Business Intelligence Analyst and Business Intelligence Engineer are within reach for those completing this certificate.
Meanwhile, graduates of the Google Advanced Data Analytics Certificate will gain proficiency in machine learning, predictive modeling, and experimental design to effectively collect and analyze large volumes of data. This certificate prepares individuals for roles such as Senior Data Analyst and Junior Data Scientist.
Addressing Common Challenges to Upskilling
To address common obstacles to upskilling faced by SMEs, Google aims to provide solutions for challenges like a lack of budget and time constraints. A lack of budget was identified as a barrier by 50% of businesses, while 42% of employees expressed concerns about a lack of time.
Ensuring Inclusivity and Empowering Underrepresented Businesses
In addition to the GCC scholarships, Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, will extend its support to The Asia Foundation’s Go Digital ASEAN program with a SGD$5.3M grant funding. The program aims to train selected business owners across ASEAN in advanced-level business and digital skills, enabling them to grow their businesses. In Singapore, The Asia Foundation’s local implementing partner, Hatch, will train 1,500 local businesses, 70% of which are owned by women or underrepresented communities. The curriculum will cover topics such as digital marketing, responsible and sustainable business practices, and more.
Google’s Commitment to Transforming Singapore Businesses
Google has been actively helping local SMEs advance their businesses with digital tools and training since 2020. Through initiatives like the Digital Practitioner Programme (DPP), developed in collaboration with EnterpriseSG, SMEs and heartland enterprises have been able to enhance their in-house capabilities in digital marketing and basic data analytics. The DPP comprises a two-month training program and a three-to-six-month practicum with dedicated Google Specialists, providing participants with hands-on experience in executing digital marketing campaigns.
During the event, Google recognized 50 homegrown businesses from different industries, including FotoHub Holdings Pte Ltd and Heng Foh Tong Medical Hall, for their participation in the DPP. A post-programme survey revealed that 9 in 10 graduates reported increased confidence in their digital skills after completing the course. These findings underscore the importance of tailored and comprehensive digital training programs for local businesses, serving as a pathway to upskilling and business growth.