The Singapore Budget every year signals a couple of things: the direction of the economy, the choice and extent of government expenditure to react to global phenomenon and also, the necessary engines of growth for the year ahead for both companies and individual.
Learning and Continuing Education and Training (CET) are major themes of the Singapore Budget 2015.
In fact, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) unveiled the CET Masterplan 2020 in September 2014 with the intents to restructure the economy and build a career-resilient workforce.
But, what does it take to ensure that young Singaporeans remain resilient, competitive and more so, attractive in the New World we are stepping into?
With education being “globalized” and made more affordable and accessible for the masses, enter Educational Technology (EdTech).
And this is just the start of the “Massive Open Online Courses” (MOOC) wave and new innovations to democratize learning and education are taking place every single day.
These signs all seem to suggest an imminent undercurrent – the typical young Singaporean can no longer remain complacent that an university degree is a be all and end all in their academic and more so, professional career.
One needs to look beyond education for mere qualification sake and invest in learning for relevant and mission-critical skills.
Future Proofing Yourself with the Relevant Skills
The Singapore Budget 2015 promises a rosy future for young Singaporeans who can best utilize the resources that are provided to them.
For a start, every Singaporean aged 25 and above will receive an initial $500 of SkillsFuture Credit, which will be topped up at regular intervals and not expire. These credits can be used on a range of Government-supported courses, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister TharmanShanmugaratnam in his Budget speech.
To sweeten the learning deal further, Singaporeans who want to build specific skills in growing industries can apply for the SkillsFuture Study Award, which will be introduced in 2015 in phases. About 100 SkillsFuture Fellowships a year will be awarded from 2016 to those who want to further develop their skills to an even higher level.
Minister Tharman rightly reminded,
“We must become a meritocracy of skills, not a hierarchy of grades earned early in life”
This suggests that it is no longer the survival of those who possesses the most academic smarts.
Instead, the ones who will thrive are those who are able to perform most effectively and deliver value with their suite of acquired skills, natural aptitudes, accumulated knowledge and sustained actions.
With the plethora of skills available, it can be difficult to identify and invest in the right set of skills so you remain competitive.
Look to the Bloom’s Taxonomy of Skills
A good and powerful way to start is to look to Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Skills. Though it was first published in 1956, it has undergone academic treatment and revision by other educational scholars over the past decades.
Bloom’s Taxonomy of Skills suggests that are 6 levels of skills involved:
These skills are ranked in order of the cognitive processes that are involved to perform those skills.
It follows that “higher-order” skills like the ability to analyse, evaluate and create while being more painstaking to acquire, can offer more value to the learners in the long run.
Take for example, a commercial banker who is client-facing and working in a financial institution.
Such higher-order skills can then manifest in the following:
Analyse: having the ability to consume large amounts of financial information, see relationships within and across industries and organize them in a clear and understandable manner for both internal and external stakeholders.
Evaluate: having the ability with present aggregated information, examine the suite of financial products and facilities offered by their institutions and partners and communicate the right investment mix for his clients to achieve their desired goals given the provided constraints.
Create: having the ability to identify the deficiency gaps of current solutions and propose newer and better ways to produce more value for his clients and hence, the institutions they are gainfully employed at. Inadvertently, the learner in discussion becomes a highly valuable adviser to the client and asset to his firm.
Clearly, there are more ways than one to skin the cat.
Likewise, there is no one training program that can and will provide the gamut of skills required for future proofing one’s career. The process of continuing education and training is an iterative one that relies upon the initiative and hunger for personal development on the part of the learner.
But if there’s anywhere to start, the forward-looking young Singaporean needs to take a hard look at how the world is changing and impacting the industries they are employed in and think ahead of what real currency of value entails today and more so, tomorrow.
With that in mind, the learning and education provisions of the Budget can then provide more bang for the buck.
As a Millennial, published author and professional speaker and trainer on cross-generational issues, Benjamin Loh works with some of the leading organizations like Shell and QBE Insurance to address Millennial issues and opportunities. His work in entrepreneurship and public speaking has been featured on over 40 occasions on both local and regional media like platforms like Channel News Asia (CNA), BFM Malaysia, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), Straits Times (ST) Business Times (BT) and News938 Live.