Learn for Life - Equipping Ourselves for a Changing World: Supporting Singaporeans to Learn for Life

Published Date: 03 March 2021 07:00 PM

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The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of lifelong learning and pursuit of skills mastery, validating trends seen prior to the pandemic. To that end, the Government will continue to support Singaporeans to reskill and upskill, so that they remain employable and are able to seize new jobs and opportunities as we transform our economy.

2. In the immediate term, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) will continue to support the National Jobs Council's efforts by extending enhanced training support through the next phase of the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. We will also continue to push ahead with the next bound of SkillsFuture in the medium-term to enhance the role of our enterprises in workforce development, enable individuals to pursue lifelong learning, and maintain our focus on mature mid-career individuals in their 40s and 50s.

Extension of Enhanced Training Support

Extension of SGUnited Skills Programme and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme-Company Training

3. The SGUnited Skills Programme and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme-Company Training will be extended for a year until 31 March 2022 to continue supporting the reskilling and upskilling of mid-career jobseekers, with the following adjustments:

  1. The capacity of in-demand courses and courses with good hiring opportunities in sectors such as ICT and Media, Healthcare and Advanced Manufacturing will be increased to help jobseekers access job opportunities in growth sectors as the economy recovers.
  2. Courses under these two programmes will be made more compact from 1 April 2021 onwards, with a duration of up to six months in general, to channel jobseekers more quickly towards new employment opportunities.

Extension of time-limited wage support for place-and-train Work-Study Programmes

4. MOE introduced wage support for employers participating in place-and-train Work-Study Programmes in September 2020 for trainees placed from 1 September 2020 to 31 March 2021. To help partner companies continue to take in trainees on Work-Study Programmes during this period of economic slowdown, we will extend the qualifying period for employers to receive wage support for a further 12 months, to include new trainees placed from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

5. With this extension, companies who place new Work-Study Certificate, Work-Study Diploma or Work-Study Post-Diploma trainees as employees will receive wage support of 45% of wages. This provides good job and upskilling opportunities for our fresh graduates amid the difficult economic climate, and more broadly, supports our aim to establish Work Study Programmes as a mainstream educational pathway. About 4,300 trainees are expected to benefit from the wage support.

Further extension of Enhanced Training Support Package

6. To provide continued support for enterprise training to support industry restructuring and transformation efforts during this period of economic slowdown, the Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP) will be extended for another six months, until 31 December 2021. The ETSP was first launched as part of the Stabilisation and Support Package and Resilience Budget announced by DPM Heng Swee Keat in 2020. It currently allows eligible companies to benefit from: (i) enhanced course fee subsidy at 90% of course fees for eight more severely affected industry sectors1; and (ii) enhanced absentee payroll at 80% of hourly basic salary, capped at $7.50/hr, for all companies.

Update on Next Bound of Skillsfuture

7. Despite the challenging economic conditions under the COVID-19 pandemic, we have pushed forward with our plans under the next bound of SkillsFuture and have made good progress.

Enhancing the role of our enterprises

8. About 250 enterprises have benefitted from the efforts of SkillsFuture Queen Bee companies in 2020. Despite the pandemic, SkillsFuture Queen Bees such as Google, IBM, Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital and Microsoft have continued to reach out to other companies, particularly SMEs, to mobilise them for workforce development efforts.

9. Since the introduction of the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (NACE) in 2018, about 530 companies have embarked on programmes and implemented workplace learning processes. More Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have also come on board as NACE Centres to help proliferate workplace learning.

10. We have also continued to scale up SkillsFuture work-study pathways, with 26 new programmes launched by IHLs in 2020. Around 600 companies participated in the Work-Study Programmes in 2020, with 1,700 individuals taking up such programmes to gain valuable work and industry experience while pursuing academic and work qualifications.

11. We have also supported training through the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC). As at 31 Oct 2020, about 3,400 eligible employers have sent their employees for training courses under SFEC.

Enabling individuals to pursue lifelong learning

12. To encourage Singaporeans in their pursuit of lifelong learning, we provided a one-off top-up of $500 to the SkillsFuture Credit accounts of all eligible Singapore Citizens on 1 Oct 2020. In 2020, 188,000 Singaporeans have used their SkillsFuture Credit, compared to 156,000 in the year before. Notably, monthly utilisation of SkillsFuture Credit in December 2020 was about twice that in March 2020, prior to the top-up.

Special focus on mature mid-career workers

13. To support mid-career jobseekers in skills upgrading and transiting to new career opportunities, MOE/SSG has scaled up career transition programmes for mid-career workers, and also provided an additional SkillsFuture Credit (Mid-Career Support) of $500 for Singapore Citizens aged 40 to 60 on 1 Oct 2020 for usage on these programmes. From July to December 2020, about 3,600 Singapore Citizens aged 40 to 60 have tapped on their additional SkillsFuture Credit (Mid-Career Support). In the same period, we have launched over 300 of such programmes, including about 250 SGUnited Skills Programme or SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme-Company Training courses.

Funding reallocation measures

14. Looking ahead, with the added objective of helping our workforce emerge stronger in the post-COVID-19 economy, our plans under the next bound of SkillsFuture have become more salient. We will continue to work with employers to expand opportunities for workers to undergo skills upgrading and on-the-job training in their workplaces. We will also continue to strengthen our support for the more vulnerable segments of our economy, such as mature workers and those who are unemployed.

15. As mentioned in MOE's Committee of Supply Debate last year, we will reallocate our resources across different areas to support our plans under the next bound of SkillsFuture. These include:

  1. Recalibrating course subsidy rates to channel highest subsidy rates towards training that delivers strongest manpower outcomes;
  2. Reviewing Absentee Payroll (AP) funding rates after the end of the Enhanced Training Support Package; and
  3. Phasing out incentives that are tied to completion of full qualifications, such as the SkillsFuture Qualification Award (SFQA), as we encourage individuals to consider upskilling through just-in-time, modular courses.

16. As our economy moves into gradual recovery, we will plan for these changes to take effect from January 2022. More details will be shared by SSG in due course.

  1. The eight sectors are: Tourism, Air Transport, Food Services, Retail, Land Transport, Arts & Culture, Aerospace, and Marine & Offshore

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