SINGAPORE: More than 400 bite-sized courses will be offered primarily by institutes of higher learning (IHLs) under a new initiative called the SkillsFuture Series, said Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung on Saturday (Oct 28).
The courses will cover eight emerging and important areas - such as cyber security, urban solutions and tech-enabled services - that are central to Singapore's future economy needs
Mr Ong was speaking at the launch of the Lifelong Learning Festival at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability.
"Several of these areas will cover new technologies that have caused some sense of uncertainty and worry among workers," he said.
"We hope that through the SkillsFuture Series, the new and unknown can be demystified, and Singaporeans can pick up relevant skills and knowledge and face the future with greater confidence and enthusiasm,"
The Education Ministry will be investing over S$70 million in the SkillsFuture Series over the next three years to pre-subsidise up to 70 per cent of the course fees. With subsidies, majority of the basic levels of the modular courses will cost less than S$500.
Individuals and businesses can then tap on their SkillsFuture Credit to pay balance.
In addition, Singaporeans who qualify for enhanced subsides such as the Enhanced Training Support for SMES of SkillsFuture Mid-career enhanced subsidy will continue to get further subsidies of up to 90 per cent of fees at the basic course level.
The courses, which span basic, intermediate and advanced levels, will target some 10,000 people for a start. Each level averages about 25 hours, or about three days of training. Course offerings will continue to expand, up to three-fold, with the aim of benefiting some 50,000 Singaporeans annually by 2020.
As the Education Ministry invests more in industry-relevant, modular training for adult workers, Mr Ong said the reality of a finite budget means there is a need to prioritise funding. Therefore, MOE will review the funding arrangement and delivery of postgraduate Masters' programmes by coursework at the Autonomous Universities.
"Some of these may be skills and vocational-based, and better delivered as modular industry training leading to graduate certifications. Further, we will have to re-look the funding levels for coursework programmes which are purely academic in nature," said Mr Ong.
He added that any changes will take effect no earlier than 2019.
Tapping on IHLs to build up Singapore's supply of continuing education training is important, said Mr Ong, given what he called their 'tremendous delivery capabilities'. Currently IHLs account for only 8 per cent of CET training.
This year's Lifelong Learning festival will be held from Oct 28 to Nov 27. Members of the public can participate in over 300 activities across Singapore. The annual event aims to build a culture of lifelong learning to support the SkillsFuture movement among Singaporeans.