A new statutory board has been set up to coordinate and drive the SkillsFuture movement in Singapore. Some of the key priorities of the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency (SSG) agency driving the movement, on passing of the bill are geared towards providing quality training to workers, facilitating better education and career guidance.
The SkillsFuture Singapore program, under the Ministry of Education will be responsible for co-ordinating pre-employment training, on-the-job training as well as continued education for all workers – both from emerging and traditional industries.
Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) said during the debate on the bill: “The establishment of SSG represents yet another milestone in Singapore’s journey to build a nation of learners who have the drive to continually pursue their interests and passions, upgrade their skills, apply themselves productively and master their craft.”
Ong also added that this move was “not for administrative or bureaucratic neatness, but to draw better synergies between the work of MOE and SSG.” To kick-start the program, the SSG will prioritise working with post-secondary education institutions, such as polytechnics, to run and expand training courses for adult learners.
Another priority would be to streamline the accreditation and quality assurance systems of the WDA and the Council for Private Education (CPE) to better regulate the private education sector.
As members of the Parliament highlighted concerns on the talent-skill mismatch gap, the need for training for older workers and ensuring the traditional workforce is in tune with the technological advancements and industry demands, the members emphasised on the need for quality training to cope with economic restructuring.
Both traditional and emerging sectors will have to build strong skills foundation for the future, Ong emphasised, such as to make the SkillsFuture program applicable to one and all. Also putting to practice, Desmond Choo’s suggestion of earn and learn programme for mature workers, the Ministry is keen on implementing this idea.
Considering SSG comes under the Ministry of Education, Ong expressed concerns if they possess a comprehensive understanding of the employment needs. Consultations with the industry would be sought after for development of training curriculum and programs to meet industry standards.
As more than 15,000 courses are made available as a part of the SkillsFuture course directory, many members of the parliament expressed concerns over the quality of the courses.
Ong later announced that a new rating feature in the Individual Learning Portfolio is scheduled to be launched next year, which will use public feedback as a mechanism to curate courses.
According to an earlier announcement made in January this year, the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) will become Workforce Singapore (WSG). It will take care of the employment facilitation, career services and employee engagement with the industry. This agency will continue to function under the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Singapore.
In view of the alarming issue of Singapore’s rapidly ageing workforce, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said, the MOM is in the process of launching and implementing the Sectoral Manpower Plan for Human Resources. “The more we invest in human resources, the more valuable this human capital will be in our future economy. This will be one of the priorities of WSG,” he told Today Online.