5-year plan to transform adult learning sector

Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung speaking at the Adult Learning Symposium on Nov 3, 2016.
Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung speaking at the Adult Learning Symposium on Nov 3, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Initiatives include online course marketplace with portal to benchmark training providers

A five-year push to help workers stay relevant in a rapidly changing economy was unveiled yesterday - with initiatives that include a one-stop online marketplace of courses and training providers.

Through a Training Exchange portal, to be set up by the end of next year, training providers will be benchmarked against one another. Measures will include how much a course helps a worker improve.

The Training and Adult Education Sector Transformation Plan also maps out ways for trainers to keep pace with industry needs, so learners are armed with relevant skills. Instead of prioritising paper qualifications, the sector will focus on how the training that is provided leads to better outcomes in the workplace.

Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, who unveiled the plan, said that even as workers upgrade themselves, the adult learning sector also has to "continue to upgrade and pursue skills mastery".

His announcement at an Adult Learning Symposium came two days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addressed workers' concerns over jobs in a slowing economy.

 

Urging them to adapt, Mr Lee highlighted how they can tap schemes like SkillsFuture to upgrade themselves. Many SkillsFuture courses are run by private providers.

Several key recommendations were outlined in the new plan, developed by the Training and Adult Education (TAE) Skills Council. These include working closely with the industry to quickly identify skills gaps and future skills needs.

Mr Ong explained: "Businesses and individuals are now looking for more than trainers or subject matter experts. TAE professionals must be able to understand the challenges of businesses, their skills requirement, and play a part to help them raise their game."

Training providers are also urged to find the right learning framework for different groups - from older workers seeking a career change to millennials keen to add a new skill - and explore new ways of teaching, including the use of virtual reality.

Trainers are also expected to upgrade their own skill sets, while providers are advised to share services to benefit from economies of scale.

A range of initiatives has already been rolled out, including the $27 million iN.Learn 2020, which helps training providers tap technology to deliver lessons.

Others are in the pipeline. A National Training Management System, now in its pilot phase and expected to be ready in 2018, will help training providers with tedious administration tasks, such as course enrolment and payment.

The SkillsFuture Study Award will be made available for the sector next year. Early to mid-career Singaporeans can tap the awards for fee subsidies for courses.

Mr Ong also stressed how the role of trainers goes beyond simply delivering lessons: they need to understand what motivates workers, and help them find job satisfaction and embrace lifelong learning.

Speaking at the symposium at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre, he said: "Training is not just delivering a lecture and showing slides, but you dive into the dreams, hopes and fears of your trainees, and help them develop.

"If you are really good at what you are doing, you uncover their passions, you help them discover their direction in life... and activate their inner motivations."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 04, 2016, with the headline '5-year plan to transform adult learning sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe