SINGAPORE: The national jobs bank to be launched in the middle of the year will eventually be part of an integrated online system, which will allow users to plan their careers and check for upgrading opportunities.
The aim is to also, in time, extend the system to the secondary school level to let students use it in getting a head start on working life.
These details emerged in an interview with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency’s (WDA) Chief Executive Ng Cher Pong.
The Fair Consideration Framework will require firms to post on a national jobs bank and hire Singaporeans first if they qualify for the job.
Only if nobody suitable is found after a 14-day advertising period can companies apply for employment passes for foreign workers to fill the post.
There have been initial trials of the online jobs bank involving hundreds of firms and individuals and WDA said feedback has been positive.
The plan now is to eventually involve schools in using it in career guidance efforts.
“Some of these career planning and strength-finding instruments are helpful for students in making educational choices as well,” said Mr Ng.
“Because obviously if they’re gearing themselves up for a particular career, a certain professional pathway, what choices they make, for example, at upper secondary, etc., does affect their choices subsequently.”
The jobs bank will also be integrated under an existing online Individual Learning Portfolio. The portfolio is on a year-long pilot trial involving some 18,000 people to date.
Pilot participants are mainly adults, but the WDA is working with the Education Ministry to involve junior colleges, polytechnics and institutes of technical education under the trial.
Stock-taking will be done of the system after the pilot and the online platform will be refined before a proper nationwide implementation.
Beyond that, the WDA wants to work with firms to introduce more defined on-the-job training programmes similar to apprenticeship schemes seen in Europe.
“It’s not just throwing a piece of work to a new employee and saying, ‘go try it out, go figure out, and then learn from it’, right? I think it’s about providing the necessary support and structure to scaffold that learning,” said Mr Ng.
However, it is not just about getting companies to send staff for training. Efforts to promote lifelong learning will increasingly focus on self-initiated upgrading to build a culture where individuals are better empowered to pursue their career goals and aspirations.
This is where e-learning comes in. The WDA said it will leverage online platforms to help firms facing manpower shortages remain productive, without neglecting staff development.
It will also focus more on helping professionals, managers and executives, given that they are expected to comprise half the workforce by 2020, up from 31 per cent in 2012.
The WDA added that an ongoing review of the government’s Continuing Education and Training Masterplan will look into how to manage a labour force that is “hollowing out” in certain industries, where machines are increasingly changing job types and functions.
The WDA also said it will do more to understand the needs of various industries, to tailor help for certain sectors in preparing a labour force that is ready for jobs of the future.
It plans to use Industry Skills and Training Councils, which are sector-specific, in their discussions with stakeholders.