The latest data released by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) revealed that a total of 160,000 Singapore citizens have used their SkillsFuture Credit in 2017, bringing the total number of current users to over 285,000 since the scheme was first introduced in 2016. This figure rose from the 126,000 in 2016 who made use of the scheme.
Revealing the update to media on Thursday (Feb 1), SSG chief executive Ng Cher Pong said the take-up of various SkillsFuture programmes indicates a good sign that Singaporeans are charting their own learning and career paths. As part of Singapore government’s plan to promote lifelong learning, the scheme provides all citizens aged 25 and above with $500 allowance, which can be used on training courses.
At the same event, Mr Ng also launched a plan to improve the quality of the training and adult education (TAE) sector, which aims to support companies as they transform and help Singaporean workers stay competitive in the talent market. Absorbing about 20,000 professionals in the country, the TAE industry transformation map focuses on driving innovation, professionalising jobs and raising productivity in the sector.
The occupations in the TAE sector include business development, which involves working with companies to identify training needs and solutions, as well as trainers and curriculum developers. The plan is one half of the education industry transformation map, with the other half is dedicated for the early childhood sector, Straits Times reports.
The SSG hopes the roadmap will encourage training providers to create more relevant and accessible learning process for the workers, Mr Ng said. He added that the roadmap could help the educators improve their courses through better feedback gathering from users. According to him, the industry plays critical role in supporting infrastructure for all other industries, especially as they embark on industry transformation. Therefore, there should be quality training solutions that evolve together with changing industry needs.
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Additionally, the agency is also developing a skills framework for the sector that provide key information on career pathways, skills required, as well as training courses available. The framework is expected to be ready by the end of this year.
Among the key concern about the SkillsFuture scheme is how it has been plagued by scams. Recent case reported in December found that SSG was cheated of nearly $40 million, making it the biggest case of a government agency being defrauded here.
Regarding to the false claim scams, Mr Ng said that major internal changes are being made to solve the issue, with more updates on a data analytics fraud detection system being installed will be provided later on. However, he emphasised that such changes in internal processes should not make it harder for people to upgrade their skills.
“We should not make Singaporeans suffer because of a few black sheep,” he said at the media briefing at the agency’s office in One Marina Boulevard. He also added that while many bosses in Singapore have recognised the need to upskill and reskill their workforce, there remains some resistance from employers, especially the smaller ones.
The problem lies in the fact these employers might not know what training opportunities are available, or might not have the capabilities to draw up and implement particular training plans for their workers. To address this, Mr Ng said that the agency has set up an enterprise engagement office last month to reach out to more employers. It will work with other government agencies and trade associations and chambers.
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