Financial Constraints Impede Further Education Goals of Adult Learners in Singapore

June 21, 20178:04 am1652 views

Getting a new diploma and studying locally are among the ways by which adult learners plan to get ahead in their careers, amidst a flat economy in 2016. While most continue to recognise the importance and benefits of further education, financial concerns are making many shy away from possibly pursuing further education goals in 2017, according to the JobsCentral Learning Survey 2017.

The annual JobsCentral Learning survey was conducted on 4,580 respondents by CareerBuilder Singapore. It is one of Singapore’s most comprehensive studies regarding the local higher education landscape.

It’s about the Money

Most respondents are keen to pursue further education, although there was a notable dip in interest from 73 percent in 2015 down to 63 percent in 2016. Financial hardship (33 percent) was the biggest challenge faced, while expressing satisfaction with their current education level, the top reason given in 2015, fell to second place.image004 (4)

Most respondents recognised the benefits of updating their skills and knowledge. They cited career advancement (72 percent), self-improvement (65 percent) and improvement of employability (59 percent) as the top reasons, which motivated them to further their education.

More than half (52 percent) of the respondents who cited financial constraint as a reason to not further education are aware of various funding options available, as compared to 50 percent in 2015. Awareness of the SkillsFuture Credit scheme was the highest (61 percent), a big increase from 2015 (23 percent).image008

“Despite 2016’s economic slowdown, which affects the overall demand for goods, the majority of respondents want to pursue further education. This could be due to an anticipation of a more competitive local landscape, as employers cut down on employment and adopt a more precise approach to recruitment. Potential employees are therefore keen to enhance their skills and knowledge in order to stand out and stay relevant amidst the fierce competition,” said Sam Ng, Managing Director of CareerBuilder Singapore.

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

Top of the Hot List: Getting a Diploma

Gaining knowledge in specific skill-based areas is perceived to be paramount. Getting a Diploma/Advanced Diploma/Graduate Diploma was the most sought-after education option, with a sharp increase of 18 percent in its preference level in 2016.  There was a slight dip in interest levels for both Postgraduate and Bachelor’s Degrees.


There is growing interest in acquiring skills related to an increasingly digitalised world. In a stark contrast from 2015, Computer science/ IT courses, previously not featured among the top five, shot to second place. Business Studies and Management retained its top position.image012

Going Local

A high percentage (63 percent) of respondents prefers to further their education in Singapore, compared to doing so overseas (16 percent). In addition, over 1 in 2 would prefer their certification to be awarded by a local institution.  The concern over costs was a main factor in deciding on an education institution, being the second most important factor.


Respondents are leaning towards learning with an increased level of flexibility – part time academic programmes remained important in 2016 (70 percent). The interest for online or e-learning also grew noticeably in 2016 (36 percent) compared to 2015 (26 percent).


The JobsCentral Learning Survey 2017 was conducted between November 2016 and January 2017, among respondents aged 16 years and above.

Also read: A Partnership to Develop Singapore’s Future Software Engineers

Feature image credit:

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)