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MOE FY2024 Committee of Supply Debate Response by Minister of State for Education Gan Siow Huang

Published Date: 04 March 2024 12:05 PM

News Speeches

Future of Learning: Empowering Contributors to Build a Better Tomorrow

Enabling Singaporeans to Stay Relevant and Employable

1. Lifelong learning is now a key pillar of our social compact.

  1. Since the start of the SkillsFuture movement in 2015, we have built a strong Lifelong Learning ecosystem, comprising individuals, employers and training providers.
  2. We have expanded our partnerships to include NTUC, Trade Associations and Chambers, professional bodies, and Queen Bee companies.
  3. We will continue to build on the foundation and expand our partnerships so that upskilling leads to better outcomes for both Singaporeans and businesses.
  4. Let me elaborate on how Individuals, Employers and Industry can each play a role.

Strengthening Individuals' Ownership

2. First, on Individuals.

  1. Last year, more than 500,000 individuals benefitted from training supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). That's 1 in 5 in our local workforce.
  2. This includes both individual-initiated training where SkillsFuture Credit was used, as well as company-initiated training programmes; both of which were supported by SSG with subsidised course fees.

3. We are introducing the SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme to further strengthen training support for Singaporeans.

4. Members have asked how we can ensure good take-up and outcomes from this programme. To do that, we must cater to the diversity of individuals' needs and aspirations.

5. For a start, we have curated over 7,000 courses covering a good range of sectors and job profiles. These courses are conducted by our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) and established private training providers such as NTUC Learning Hub and SHATEC. SSG will review the courses eligible for SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme over time, with input from sector agencies, industry intermediaries and professional bodies.

6. Last Friday, Minister Chan Chun Sing spoke about the SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme (SCTP). SCTP courses are geared towards individuals who wish to move into high growth areas, such as Digital, Care and Green economies.

  1. On top of training, SCTP courses include career advisory and employment facilitation, so that trainees have a better chance of getting employed after completing the course.

7. Take the example of Ms Low Danli, aged 41. She had been working in the ICT industry for 14 years when she sought a career change.

  1. Ms Low previously used her SkillsFuture Credit for some courses on corporate environment sustainability.
  2. After attending a SkillsFuture Roadshow, she took up an SCTP course in Sustainability at the SMU Academy.
  3. With 90% Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy, the course fee payable by Ms Low was about $2,000. She used her remaining SkillsFuture Credit to offset a part of the course fees.
  4. Through the course, she learnt about climate issues, sustainable supply chains and green finance. She is now a Sustainability Client Engagement Specialist at the Singapore Environment Council.

8. The SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme seeks to enable more mid-career individuals like Ms Low to pursue a substantive bout of upskilling. If Ms Low decides to further deepen her skills in a few years' time and enrol in a full-time course, for example a Diploma in sustainability, the $4,000 SkillsFuture Credit top-up will be sufficient to cover at least half her course fees, and she will also get training allowance amounting to 50% of her last drawn salary, up to $3,000 per month.

9. If you are a Singaporean aged 40 and above,

  1. You will soon be notified by SSG of your eligibility for the SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme.
  2. Given the wide range of courses available, you may need some help to make a decision. Do spend some time to chart your own skills journey. There are various ways for you to seek advice:
    1. You can refer to online resources such as MySkillsFuture website and SSG's reports to understand skills that are in demand.
    2. You can also use the CareersFinder tool on MyCareersFuture portal to discover career opportunities and skills gaps based on your personal profile and work history.
    3. If you prefer to speak to someone, you can go to a Skills Ambassador for personalised course recommendations. Skills Ambassadors can be found at some community clubs, Workforce Singapore Careers Connect Centres, job fairs, and SkillsFuture roadshows across the island.

10. Career transition is not a one-step change. It can involve self-discovery, seeking out advice and more than one bout of skills training. As we shift SkillsFuture to a higher gear, we hope that every individual will take charge of their career health and invest in building their own career resilience.

11. Ms Jean See and Ms Usha Chandradas highlighted freelancers and self-employed persons as a group that deserves attention. Under the SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme, there are a good number of courses in the areas highlighted by the Members, whether to deepen technical skills or broaden business skills such as digital branding and business administration.

12. Ms Rachel Ong asked how we can ensure that the courses that qualify for the $4,000 top-up are accessible to Persons with Disabilities.

  1. We have been working closely with SG Enable and training providers to make mainstream training programmes more accessible to Persons with Disabilities. This is work-in-progress.
  2. As there is a wide spectrum of learning needs for Persons with Disabilities, we also encourage those interested in the courses to approach the training providers, who can then work with Enabling Academy to assess what assistive support and course modifications could be made to suit the specific needs of the individuals.

Strengthening Employer's Involvement

13. Now let me touch on employers, on how they can take greater ownership of upskilling their employees to meet their business needs.

14. We are encouraged that more employers are participating in training, especially SMEs.

  1. In 2023, around 23,000 companies participated in SSG-supported programmes. This is a 15% increase from 2022, driven by small companies with fewer than 50 employees.
  2. But from the ForwardSG conversations, we have also heard feedback that opportunities for employer-sponsored training are uneven. Some workers hope that their employers can do more.

15. We want to support companies in making training more accessible.

16. First, we have developed tools that can help companies assess their skills stock, especially SMEs that tend to have leaner HR departments.

  1. Together with JobKred, SSG has developed a tool called the Skills Profiler. It allows employers to benchmark the skillsets of their employees against similar jobs in the industry. Companies will then receive customised course recommendations for any skills gaps. The Skills Profiler pilot was rolled out to 400 SMEs last year, with all slots snapped up within 7 months.
  2. To support more SMEs in conducting training needs analyses, SSG will make the Skills Profiler available to 1,000 more enterprises this year. I encourage companies to come forward to try this.

17. How might employers then take action?

  1. Mr Mark Lee suggested treating workplaces as extensions of our IHLs. I agree. Indeed, workplace learning as a modality provides an authentic learning environment for employees. It also helps employers better manage the challenges around releasing staff to external courses.
    1. Last year, we piloted the Workplace Skills Recognition (WPSR) programme in selected Progressive Wage Model (PWM) sectors with the help of the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (NACE). NACE has started certifying companies that have established workplace learning systems and skills development plans for their staff. Once certified, the companies will be able to more quickly move their staff into training and help them acquire Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) certifications for the skills they have attained at the workplace.
    2. I am happy to hear from NTUC Deputy Secretary-General Desmond Tan that feedback from its partners has been positive, and more employers in NTUC's Company Training Committee (CTC) network intend to sign up for the Workplace Skills Recognition Programme.
    3. We will expand the WPSR so that more employers and workers can benefit from it.
  2. Employers who decide to send their staff for external training can also receive substantial support for the training costs.
    1. In addition to SSG's subsidies, companies can tap on $10,000 of SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC) to further defray their out-of-pocket costs. MTI has announced that the SFEC has been extended to June 2025.
    2. And beginning from Year of Assessment 2024, corporate tax deduction for training has been enhanced from 100% to 400% under the Enterprise Innovation Scheme.
    3. I encourage companies to make full use of these measures to upskill their employees to stay competitive.

Strengthening Partnerships to Build an Agile, Market-Responsive Jobs and Skills Ecosystem

18. Our jobs and skills ecosystem must come together to address job transformation and skills needs effectively.

19. We agree with Members on the need for industry involvement in the design and delivery of training.

  1. SSG, as the national skills authority, works closely with sector agencies and industry partners to understand industry demand and skills needs. These are translated into skills insights that are publicly available so that everyone can make use of the information.
    1. For example, training providers have developed SkillsFuture Series courses to provide skills top-ups in Industry 4.0 and the Care, Digital and Green economies.
    2. In areas like AI, where we are making a national push to develop a pipeline of AI talent and AI practitioners, there are a variety of options ranging from bite-sized modular courses to Masters programmes.
  2. Industry players have stepped in to deliver training as well. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has trained close to 1,000 individuals in business-relevant digital skills through its Rise series of courses for companies and individuals.
  3. Meanwhile, our Institutes of Higher Learning are ramping up industry attachments for their staff and tapping on industry practitioners to deliver Continuing Education and Training (CET).

20. Ms Foo Mee Har suggested introducing a SkillsFuture quality accreditation framework to differentiate funding for training programmes by quality and industry relevance, and recognise high-quality training providers.

  1. SSG has indeed moved in this direction with its outcome-based funding model.
  2. By end-2024, all courses that deliver strong manpower outcomes in terms of securing employment and career progression will be accorded the highest tier of SSG subsidies.

21. To strengthen the reach and impact of SkillsFuture in more challenging sectors, we have introduced new partnership models in the past few years. Intermediaries like the Jobs-Skills Integrators and Queen Bee companies can help smaller companies leverage on their industry networks and strengths.

Performing Arts-Based Learning

22. Let me now turn to our students.

23. To enhance our students' arts and cultural appreciation,

  1. MOE regularly reviews our curricular and co-curricular learning opportunities. An example is the Performing Arts-Based Learning (PABL) which was piloted in 2023 across 22 secondary schools to create authentic learning opportunities beyond the classroom for our lower secondary students.
  2. Through PABL, students experience live music performance that is specially produced and staged at a professional concert venue, as well as pre- and post-concert music lessons held in class.
  3. We received positive feedback from our students, and will progressively roll out PABL to all secondary schools from 2024 to 2027.

Partnership with Parents

24. Last but not least, parents. They are our key partners in supporting students' well-being and development.

25. Dr Wan Rizal, Ms Denise Phua and Ms Razwana Begum asked how MOE is partnering parents in supporting our students' holistic development.

  1. MOE has developed resources for parents to guide their children on the various pathways available, and in areas such as children's well-being, cyber wellness and broadening the definition of success.
  2. If you have the Parents Gateway app on your mobile phone, you will find a treasure trove of Parenting Resources that can make you a more informed parent.
  3. MOE also works with the Community and Parents in Support of Schools (COMPASS) Council. COMPASS members have led several projects that offer alternative platforms for parents to learn from professionals and other experienced parents.

26. In journeying with parents, our Parent Support Groups (PSGs) have been great partners, and I am most thankful to our PSGs. Many volunteer and stay on the PSG even after their children have graduated from the school. Their passion is to help other parents and be peer supporters for the parent community.

  1. We recognise that each PSG has unique yet useful experiences that other PSGs can learn from.
  2. Therefore, to encourage sharing of learnings across PSGs, every PSG will be part of a Support Circle from 2024.
    1. Support Circles are communities of PSGs across various schools where they can share resources and ideas.
    2. They can decide on the topics to collaborate on such as supporting parents of children with Special Educational Needs and strengthening student mental well-being.


27. It takes a whole-of-society effort to equip Singaporeans with the skills they need to adapt and thrive. It is our duty to build on the foundation of Lifelong Learning that has been laid. Collectively, we can build a brighter shared future for Singaporeans and Singapore.