How Singapore is upskilling its workforce
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How Singapore is upskilling its workforce

IN recent months, tens of thousands of Singaporeans have attended government-organised workshops that would help them find courses that could expand their skill sets and uplift their careers.

Known as the SkillsFuture Advice programme, the government has reached over 50,000 Singaporeans within a few months, allowing attendees to develop their education, training and job prospects.

The programme is aimed those from all walks of the employment spectrum, from fresh graduates to working professionals, mid-career switchers, to retired seniors, Business Times reported.

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The project involves 90-minute talks conducted in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil at community centres and clubs scattered around the city-state.

Launched in October, the series of talks are part of a wider scheme of courses offered by SkillsFuture, a statutory body under the Ministry of Education which provides training and upgrading skills to keep up with the ever-changing technological advancements in the workforce.

Skills future currently offers more than 400 courses, mostly conducted by institutes of higher learning (IHLs), which the targeted groups can attend to hone their skills in their chosen disciplines.

The government began expanding the Skillsfuture programme in 2017, aiming to train over 50,000 Singaporeans annually in specific areas that were industry-relevant.

On average, each course would take up 25 training hours while participants can opt to take part in basic, intermediate and advanced proficiency levels for the programmes.

Citizens and permanent residents who want to participate can receive up of 70 percent of subsidies on course fees, but most of the entry-level courses were already inexpensive, costing less than S$500 (US$365).

During an event to mark the anniversary of SkillsFuture Advice, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said all five community development councils involved in the programme managed to reach out to 6,000 individuals in the first year and exceeded that goal.

Ong lauded Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat who announced a renewed focus on economic transformation ahead of the upcoming national budget where the latter has vowed to companies, especially small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), to cope with it.

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A crowd walks along Orchard Road in Singapore. Source: Shutterstock

“It is important – when we look at SMEs, they make up 99 per cent of all our enterprises, they hire about 65 per cent of all employees, but I think there is still room for SMEs to be more productive,” he was quoted as saying.

Therefore, we will see how we can use SkillsFuture as a national movement to help upgrade our SMEs.”

Mayor of North West District, said 40 percent of the workshop participants have undertaken at least one skills upgrading programme or were planning to do so.

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“Indeed it is very encouraging that Singaporeans want to take the opportunity to upgrade themselves,” he said.

“By 2020, we hope to conduct at least 1,000 workshops for Singaporeans to empower more residents to better take charge of their skills upgrading and career development.

“It is important that every Singaporean adopts lifelong learning as part of our living habit and continue to learn.”

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