SINGAPORE: About 18,000 training spots under the SGUnited jobs and skills package have been committed - which means training providers have agreed to offer them - Minister of Education Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday (Sep 22).
Mr Wong said that this shows the Government is “on track” to meet its target of having 30,000 training places made available under the programme this year. The programme is part of Singapore's strategy to address the weak job market.
Almost 15,000 people have signed up for these courses so far, Mr Wong said. He added that most of the interest has “not surprisingly” been in areas like information and communications technology.
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“My message to all mid-careers (job seekers) is to stay positive. The Government will provide maximum support for everyone who’s looking for a job,” he said.
“And so long as our mid-careers have the right mindset to want to continue to reskill and upskill, we will do our part to provide you with the support that is necessary to get the relevant training, and to be in a good position to get a job when the economy recovers,” he added.
Mr Wong was speaking at the launch of a new training programme in emerging technologies for mid-career professionals.
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The six-month full-time programme, titled “i.am-vitalize”, is run by technology giant IBM under its IBM Skills Academy, and lets participants select between an artificial intelligence or cybersecurity track.
There are 800 spots available between now and March next year- although IBM said they will not turn anyone away if the quota is exceeded - and more than 400 people have signed up so far since applications opened a month-and-a half ago.
After Government subsidies, the course costs S$500, which can be offset using SkillsFuture credits. Participants are given a monthly S$1,500 training allowance.
Students are taken through a set of introductory modules for the first two-and-a-half months, before specialising in either artificial intelligence or cybersecurity, according to a press release by IBM and SkillsFuture Singapore.
Classes, which began on Monday and have been held virtually so far, are a mix of lectures, lab sessions and group work.
IBM is working with other companies such as Tribe Accelerator and Standard Chartered to provide participants with jobs after they complete the programme.
Standard Chartered's head of human resource for Singapore, Australia, and ASA (ASEAN and South Asia) cluster markets Charlotte Thng, said the programme’s curriculum provides students with the kind of skills the bank has been looking for. She added that the bank plans to hire about 20 of the programme’s graduates, and possibly more "if that works out well”.
IBM has also not ruled out hiring some of the graduates, said Martin Chee, IBM Singapore’s managing director.
“I think these students will have something special to add, not just technology but they will have experience which they bring with them to support and help them be a lot more employable,” he said, referring to how the students come from backgrounds like marketing and business.
One of them is Genevieve Gay, who was previously a marketing executive at OCBC Bank before leaving to take a break in 2018. She said she joined the programme to make sure she is prepared for a future where many jobs will require digital expertise.
And it was a good time to sign up given the difficulty in looking for jobs now, she added.
“(Taking up this course) is really to advance my career into the next step ahead,” she said.
“And I was (thinking), ‘okay, then how can I future-proof myself in the long run?’ Because I already know digital marketing, so what other digital capabilities can I learn to enrich myself.”