SINGAPORE: Improving its outreach to more Singaporeans is among SkillsFuture Singapore’s priorities this year. The newly-formed statutory board, which aims to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential through life – regardless of their starting point – saw 380,000 Singaporeans benefit from programmes under the SkillsFuture movement last year, 30,000 more than the year before.
According to SkillsFuture Singapore, 920,000 training places have been taken up, about an 11 per cent increase from 2015.
“I think we've made steady progress in SkillsFuture over the last year (or so). The steady increase in the number of training places supported by the Government that have been taken up, (it’s been) benefiting more enterprises, benefiting more individuals. And I think we've made some success there," said SkillsFuture Singapore’s chief executive Ng Cher Pong.
"But also more importantly, SkillsFuture is about changing mindsets around lifelong learning and skills mastery; we've seen some shifts in the mindsets of enterprises and individuals. But this is still early days yet, and there is still a lot of hard work going forward."
A better-known aspect of the initiative is SkillsFuture credits, which sees all Singaporeans aged 25 and above receiving a sum from the Government to help pay for approved skills-related courses.
Beyond that, other schemes include the Earn and Learn programme and the Skills Framework. Individuals can also apply for subsidies to take up classes to gain necessary skills for career growth.
“SkillsFuture has really benefited me by offsetting a huge portion of my school fees, since I've (started attending) 3dsense Media School. And it's really allowed me to learn important skills to follow my dreams and enter the film and games industry. Without it, I may not be able to further my studies to get a degree later on,” said student Samuel Lim.
HELPING THE UNEMPLOYED
Skills mismatch and a tight labour workforce are some challenges facing the Singapore economy. As such, the agency also wants to reach out to those who have been unemployed.
"(I think) the group of unemployed Singaporeans certainly is a pressing issue. And that's an issue that we are working very closely with Workforce Singapore on – helping individuals to reskill; find new jobs,” said Mr Ng.
SkillsFuture Singapore is also concerned that many Singaporeans are still not aware of programmes under the movement, or are unsure how to tap on such schemes.
As such, a key priority for the agency this year is to improve its engagement with individuals as well as companies.