Training and adult education sector to be upgraded to help workers

Mr Ong Ye Kung, Education Minister for Higher Education and Skills said sectors have to continue to be responsive to the changing needs of the economy and industries.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, Education Minister for Higher Education and Skills said sectors have to continue to be responsive to the changing needs of the economy and industries. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - As more sectors transform themselves and seek workers with relevant skills, the training and adult education sector here - which play a crucial role in building up a skilled workforce - has to upgrade itself too.

The sector "has to continue to be responsive to the changing needs of the economy and industries", Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said.

As such, a five-year transformation plan was unveiled on Thursday (Nov 3) to refresh and possibly raise the continuing education and training system in Singapore.

Also known as the Training and Adult Education Sector Transformation Plan, it is made in line with the national SkillsFuture movement to keep pace with the changing skills needs of the fast-evolving economy.

Today, there are about 6,000 adult educators and curriculum developers in the diverse training and adult education sector.

The plan, developed by the Training and Adult Education Skills Council in consultation with more than 150 professionals, was announced by Mr Ong at the Adult Learning Symposium at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Thursday.

Mr Ong 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.

"You hone their skills and raise their game to a higher level, but more importantly, if you are really good at what you are doing, you uncover their passions, you help them discover their direction in life and their aspirations, and activate their inner motivations."

Under the plan, seven key recommendations were identified under three areas - repositioning the sector for growth, strengthening the systems and processes for training providers, and addressing manpower and skills needs.

The recommendations include measuring if training meets workplace performance outcomes, refreshing the learning infrastructure to support innovation, and upgrading the educators' skills.

A range of initiatives have since been rolled out, and more are in the works. For instance, a greater emphasis will be placed on blended learning, which may include online lectures as well as discussions in class. By 2020, about three in four full Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) courses will be delivered through blended learning.

Also, a national training management system, now in its pilot phase and expected to be ready in 2018, will help streamline training administration tasks, such as enrolment management and course payment. It will be made available to interested training providers.

The SkillsFuture Study Awards, one of the many initiatives under the national drive, will also be made available to professionals in the sector. Early to mid-career Singaporeans can tap on the awards for fee subsidies for courses to develop skills needed.

SkillsFuture Singapore chief executive Ng Cher Pong said the plan is a "pivotal road map".

"As the SkillsFuture movement gathers momentum, a high-quality training and adult education sector is critical in providing Singaporeans with a wide range of opportunities to effectively reskill and upskill themselves," he added.