Skills training and SkillsFuture credits

Published Date: 10 January 2017 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Foo Mee Har, West Coast GRC

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) (a) what is the progress made by Singapore companies' investment in skills training to support skills mastery and employees' transition to new growth areas in their respective companies; and (b) how do the training efforts of Singapore companies compare with the best-in-class globally in terms of training hours, dollars spend as a percentage of payroll, and track record in supporting employees to gain new skills.

To ask the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) whether the Government tracks the utilisation of SkillsFuture credits to prepare Singaporeans for alternative careers and how successful the scheme has been in preparing Singaporeans for new jobs especially amongst older workers.

Response

1. Historically, our adult workers’ training system tended to support employers training their workers, much more than empowering workers to take charge of their own lifelong learning journey. 10 years ago, Government funding for lifelong learning was heavily weighted towards employer-supported training, with a small proportion going to individual-initiated training.

2. Over the years, the Government has expanded its funding support for lifelong learning, and also shifted funding more towards supporting individuals directly. This is necessary, given the increase in number of contract workers and freelancers, and that it is much more likely that individuals will take the initiative to prepare themselves for their next careers, as opposed to employers doing so for them. Today, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) provide about $400 million a year in direct training subsidies for lifelong learning, with as much as 40% of that going towards supporting individual-initiated training.

3. Employed Singaporeans’ participation rate in structured training is now 62%, higher than the OECD average of 55%. We are higher than Australia, Korea, Japan and France, but below US, the UK, Finland and Sweden. Further, based on our surveys in 2014, 82% of surveyed employers provided structured training to their employees, compared to 72% in 2006.

4. We are therefore not doing badly, and many companies do take the skills upgrading of their workers seriously. But we can certainly do better, especially in encouraging small and medium size companies to do so, and for all companies to be more active in offering structured in-house training and apprenticeship schemes, such Enhanced Internships under SkillsFuture, the SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme, and the Professional Conversion Programmes under Adapt and Grow.

5. The SkillsFuture Credit is one of many efforts to under the SkilsFuture Movement to promote lifelong learning. We track the utilisation closely and the latest results were just released yesterday. As at end December 2016, over 126,000 Singapore Citizens have utilised $37 million worth of the SkillsFuture Credit.

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