Singapore Budget 2017: Heng Swee Keat to Help Workers with New Skills Training and E-Learning Courses

February 21, 20178:22 am1009 views
Singapore Budget 2017: Heng Swee Keat to Help Workers with New Skills Training and E-Learning Courses
Finance Minister, Heng Swee Keat

To adapt to the changing environment and cope with digital transformation, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat outlined ways during Singapore Budget 2017 announcement to upskill Singaporeans with new structured training programs and e-learning courses to be able to cope with rapid digitalisation in the future.

For instance, he aims to make training more accessible to workers through short, modular-course offerings and use of e-learning methodologies will be expanded. He also said, Universities, Institutes of Technical Educations (ITEs) and polytechnics have started offering such courses, Channel News Asia reports.

As regards funding for higher training, SkillsFuture will continue to be the primary source for Singaporeans to take approved courses. Additionally, union members can avail of subsidies for selected courses through the NTUC-Education and Training Fund. The Government has also set aside S$150 million to match donations to the fund.

Besides upskilling workers in Singapore, they also need to use the skills learned in their jobs and hence employers, trade associations and chambers (TACs), unions and the Government will be working together.

For workers to effectively utilise the skills learned, the Government will work with private placement firms to make the National Jobs Bank more useful for employers and job seekers, by delivering better job match services for professionals. The Ministry has also called upon employers, TACs and unions to work in tandem to streamline structured training offerings to workers. Further employers and TACs who develop training programmes can expect funding support from SkillsFuture Singapore.

Citing, the Singapore Hotel and Tourism Education Centre (SHATEC) as a successful example, which was set up some 30 years ago by the Singapore Hotel Association to provide hands-on training and skilled courses, Mr Heng told it has since inception helped build a skilled hospitality workforce.

The Finance Minister also revealed plans of setting up a Global Innovation Alliance for Singaporeans to gain overseas work experience, build networks and collaborate with counterparts in other innovative cities, and there will be three programmes in this initiative. Plans for the alliance were part of the Committee on the Future Economy’s (CFE) recommendations announced earlier this month.

Firstly, the Innovators Academy will help tertiary students to build connections and capabilities overseas, thus building upon the National University of Singapore (NUS) Overseas College programme that connects students to overseas start-ups. Students from other universities will also be able to participate, and the Government seeks to grow the intake from 300 to 500 students over the next five years.

See: Employers in Singapore are looking at Flexible Finance Technology Talent Pool in Q1 2017

Also Innovation Launchpads will be established in selected overseas markets, which will create opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners to connect with mentors, service providers and investors, Mr Heng added.

Thirdly, there will be Welcome Centres – through which innovative foreign companies can link up with Singapore partners to co-innovate, test new products and expand in the region. The Government will launch the Alliance in Beijing, San Francisco, and various Southeast Asian cities in its initial phase, and the Ministers for Trade and Industry will share more during the Committee of Supply debates.

Foo See Yang, Managing Director and Country Head of Kelly Services Singapore commented on the Budget 2017 exclusively, “For sectors such as food services, retail and logistics, utilising digital technologies to improve productivity will require workers to learn new skills, and companies to ensure that their workers’ skills are upgraded alongside this transition.”

“Upskilling programmes must go beyond mere skills development to nurture workers in areas such as problem-solving, innovative thinking, and mental agility. The intent should be for workers to become more self-reliant and adaptive.”

The SkillsFuture leadership development initiative will support companies to develop and groom future Singaporean leaders by expanding leadership development programs to include sending promising individuals overseas and helping them pursue specialised courses.

The programme will target to develop 800 potential leaders over three years to begin with. The Government is setting aside more than S$100 million for the alliance and the Leadership Development Initiative.

See Yang added, “With the rise of automation and contract work, the best and most relevant skills in the market are constantly evolving. We look forward to hearing more on the enhancements to the “Adapt and Grow” initiative, which includes a new “Attach and Train” programme.”

A new “Attach and Train” initiative for sectors that have good growth prospects, but where companies may not be ready to hire yet will be introduced. Industry partners can send participants for training and work attachments, Straits Times reports.

An additional sum of up to $26 million a year will be committed from the Lifelong Learning Endowment Fund and the Skills Development Fund to support this and other initiatives aimed at helping workers, including the Career Support Programme, the Professional Conversion Programme and the Work Trial Programme.

The Additional Special Employment Credit will be extended till end-2019. Under this scheme, employers will receive wage offsets of up to 3 percent for workers who earn under $4,000 per month, and those who are not covered by the new re-employment age of 67 years.

Also read: Internationalisation Creates 61% PMET jobs in Singapore

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