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Singapore studying how to provide more opportunities to encourage lifelong learning

Speaking at a youth forum organised by CNA, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong says the Government is looking at how to provide a better support system for working Singaporeans to help them develop their skill sets.

Singapore studying how to provide more opportunities to encourage lifelong learning

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong speaking at the CNA youth forum. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: The Government is studying how to provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to continue upgrading their skills in order to stay relevant throughout their careers, according to Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

Speaking at a youth forum organised by CNA, excerpts of which are being broadcast on video, Mr Wong said creating a culture of lifelong learning can be done at different stages of life, including in schools and at the workplace.

Addressing concerns from participants about the competitive environment in schools, Mr Wong said the Government is trying to shift the emphasis away from rigorous exams and towards more holistic learning.

“If the focus is on exams then obviously, there’s very little time for anything else because all your priorities and energy is on the exam result which I think a little bit too much energy and attention has been placed on that,” he said.

“We are trying to shift that emphasis towards more holistic learning and giving people more time, more space to explore other things outside of the school curriculum even,” he added.

“So that's what we are trying very hard to do. Again, we can do that in our school system, but it requires a mindset change too (for) parents as well as students themselves.”

To encourage people to continue learning even after they start working, he said the Government will provide more resources for those who wish to do so through SkillsFuture.

“How can we provide more opportunities for everyone as you embark on your careers to really take time off from work from time to time and get a fresh injection of skills that will ensure you stay relevant and competitive throughout your careers - that's something we are studying and we hope to enhance our system,” he said.

During the discussion on jobs and the economy, one participant asked how the view that Singapore needs to remain open to foreign talent can be further cultivated in the workforce.

“Keeping Singapore open and embracing foreign professionals is extremely essential for Singapore,” he said during the forum, which is being shown online as a six-part series.

“It's even existential because the minute we close up and we put up barriers, it will be very hard for Singapore as a small, little island to succeed and to create jobs and opportunities for our own people.”

However, he noted that there are downsides to having an open economy, including more competition.

“It means that there may be more churn in the workplace, it means that later on as you start work, you may see foreign professionals amongst you and you can imagine for a Singaporean being very upset if a Singaporean is displaced, is retrenched, loses the job but the foreigner next to him keeps the job,” he said. “Understandably, there will be a lot of unhappiness there.”

That is why the Government is looking at how to provide a better system of support for Singaporeans at the workplace, which includes investing more in developing their skill sets.

“Enabling everyone to continue to upgrade (their) skills to continue to stay competitive,” he said.

“It also includes us thinking about how we can provide more assurances and protections for Singaporean workers in the workplace and that's something we are also studying,” he added.

“We want every Singaporean to feel that all of us are benefitting from an open economy and if we feel that way, I think we can sustain Singapore as an open city and society for many more years to come.”

Source: CNA/vl(gr)

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