ANTALYA, Turkey: The key to preparing workers for the future, and prevent structural mismatches developing in the workforce, is effecting a mindset shift to make upgrading skillsets "a way of life", Mr Lee Hsien Loong said as he shared Singapore's SkillsFuture lifelong learning vision at the Group of 20 (G20) Leaders' Summit on Sunday (Nov 15).
Mr Lee called G20's Skills Strategy, signed in September, "a critical and timely piece of work". The strategy advocates the building and updating of skillsets, including providing incentives to update skills, and calls on employers to invest in quality training for workers.
"Our global economy faces short-term risks and longer-term challenges. I would like to focus on one longer-term issue, and that is one concerned with preparing workers for the future. This is vital to inclusive growth - for us to have our workers trained, educated and kept employable so as to avoid structural mismatches developing in the workforce, be it for youths or mature workers," said the Singapore Prime Minister.
"We need a deliberate strategy to drive skills, innovation and productivity, which have to advance in tandem.
"We in Singapore have made this a major, sustained national effort. It is an effort that involves the Government, involves employers and involves workers – the three tripartite partners in our labour management relations and economic development."
SkillsFuture, Mr Lee said, was about institutionalising skills development throughout a workers’ career and working out pathways for workers to improve their skills and jobs. This is achieved by structuring training and education into modules so that workers can build their skills progressively and systematically, as well as helping workers to plan their development journey with career counsellors and psychometric assessments.
To support the effort, the Government will give each worker in Singapore S$500 worth of SkillsFuture credit, deposited into a personal Learning Account, which can be used at any time for training courses.
"These are pieces of our plan," said Mr Lee of the nascent programme. "It will take years to bear fruit, but we hope to achieve a mindset shift - a shift where employers and society will value persons for their skills and contributions so that every worker and every person will make self-improvement and upgrading a way of life."