March 05, 2018
MOE FY2018 Committee of Supply Debate Response by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Ms Low Yen Ling
1. Chairman, Minister Ng Chee Meng, Minister Ong Ye Kung, SMS Janil and SPS Faishal have expounded on the shifts we are making in our education landscape to better equip Singaporeans for the future economy.
SUPPORTING MTL LEARNING THROUGH A VIBRANT ECOSYSTEM
2. As we build up our people’s skills, competency in our mother tongue languages (MTLs) is an important area that will stand Singaporeans in good stead. Chairman, please allow me to continue in Mandarin.
7. 例如，一年一度的母语学习论坛（MTLS），就邀请了多位专家学者，与家长们分享母语学习的方法和许许多多的资源。去年的母语学习论坛，就吸引了多达1万5千名家长、老师和同学们参加。此外，教育部也设置了iMTL 网络平台，好让家长们能够在家中依据他们孩子的学习能力和学习进度，督促和引导孩子学习和复习母语。这就是我们的iMTL母语学习平台。
8. Our local arts and cultural groups, media as well as grassroots organisations can also provide rich contexts to excite our students to use their MTLs.
9. For example, the Indian Heritage Centre worked with the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee to develop a Discovery Kit that lets students practise the language as they explore the centre.
10. Like the learning of many skills today, as you have heard from the Ministers, the learning of our MTLs does not stop after we leave school. As adults, we can still build on the foundation we received in school and continue to build on our language proficiency later in life and throughout life.
11. There are now 190 MTL-related SkillsFuture Credit courses supporting lifelong MTL learning. The Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce Institute of Business will also be introducing Business Chinese programmes in community centres for easy access by adult learners.
SUPPORTING LEARNING BEYOND SCHOOLING YEARS
12. Besides strengthening our proficiency in MTLs, what are the other work-relevant skills that we need to develop to face and thrive in the future economy? This is what the SkillsFuture movement is about, as you have heard from Minister Ong Ye Kung.
13. I agree with A/P Randolph Tan that literacy and ICT skills are critical skills for our workforce. This is why our WSQ framework includes Workplace Literacy and Numeracy as well as International Computing Driving Licence courses. ICT is also the top area of training that is supported by SkillsFuture Credit. Over 6,000 Singaporeans have picked up useful IT skills under the SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace initiative, such as using e-payment platforms, using social media and even starting an e-business.
14. Dr Intan asked about the impact of the SkillsFuture movement. Awareness of the SkillsFuture movement among Singaporeans has improved from 45% in January 2016 to 70% in December last year. According to the WSQ Outcomes Evaluation Survey 2016, 90% of respondents indicated that their WSQ training has helped them work more effectively and more efficiently, and 72% found that it had also facilitated their job search. More than 1,700 Polytechnic and ITE graduates have participated in the SkillsFuture Earn-and-Learn Programme, and more than 2,400 Singaporeans have been awarded the SkillsFuture Study Awards.
15. Nonetheless, some Singaporeans may need help to navigate the training landscape, as Dr Intan has pointed out. Our schools and our Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) have strengthened their Education and Career Guidance efforts to help students better appreciate the strengths and passions they possess, and better understand the available education and career opportunities. To help Singaporeans make informed decisions, SSG publishes key information, such as the Private Education Institution (PEI) Graduate Employment Survey and trainees’ ratings on the course quality and outcomes of SSG-supported courses. This information transparency spurs the PEIs to keep their programmes industry-relevant and graduates’ skills employable.
16. To encourage and facilitate our people’s training journey, we have tailored and personalised the MySkillsFuture portal to meet individual training needs. This portal allows users to access industry information and search for jobs and training opportunities according to their interests. On this website, we also highlight exemplary employers who are avid supporters of staff training. In the two months following its launch, the portal has attracted more than 1.9 million page views, with more than 270,000 users having logged in. Come later part of this year, Singaporeans can look forward to a customised SkillsFuture Earn-and-Learn Programme (ELP) portal that shows available places and participating employers.
17. To broaden our public outreach, we have partnered our five Community Development Councils to introduce SkillsFuture Advice workshops to help Singaporeans understand work trends and workplace skills needed.
18.Ms Evangeline Boo is one of the 4,600 Singaporeans who have benefited from this move. Through the SkillsFuture Advice workshop, she became more aware of her own training needs. She now actively uses the MySkillsFuture portal to search for leadership and management courses to improve her work as a director.
19. As Minister Ong had mentioned, we will continue to expand the learning options for Singaporeans, and that includes working with IHLs to introduce more courses for adult learners.
20. Part of this will involve resourcing IHLs with the best talents, local and foreign, for teaching and research. Mr Seah Kian Peng asked about the local representation in our AUs. Our AUs are national institutions and it is certainly important that they continue to have a strong Singaporean core who understand our local issues well. We have introduced the Singapore Teaching and Academic Research Talent Scheme in 2015 and awarded 77 scholarships to aspiring Singaporean academics so far.
21. Together with our parents and partners, we will continue to strive to equip and empower Singaporeans in their lifelong learning journey ahead, so that we can all gear up to seize the opportunities ahead.