Educational institutions and industries must work closely to match skills and jobs

Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) is the guest-of-honour at a graduation ceremony at Singapore Polytechnic's Convention Centre on May 5, 2017.
Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) is the guest-of-honour at a graduation ceremony at Singapore Polytechnic's Convention Centre on May 5, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
This year, 5,600 students from SP will be receiving their full-time and part-time diplomas and certificates.
This year, 5,600 students from SP will be receiving their full-time and part-time diplomas and certificates.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Educational institutions and industries must work closely to ensure that knowledge acquired and skills developed remain relevant to changing needs of the economy.

But even as they evolve, each individual must take ownership of their own learning journey to forge their future, said Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry).

"Rapid technological advancements are fundamentally changing the nature of our economy and the work that we do. To stay competitive and continue to create good jobs for our people, industries have to restructure, business models must adapt, and Singaporeans need to acquire new skills," he said.

This was his message to the 651 adult graduands from Singapore Polytechnic's (SP) Continuing Education and Training (CET) courses who were receiving their diplomas and certificates at a graduation ceremony at SP's Convention Centre on Friday (May 5).

This year, 5,600 students from SP will be receiving their full-time and part-time diplomas and certificates.

While reiterating points made earlier this week by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, and Mr Chan Chun Sing, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, he said:

"The basic issue that we face today is not an insufficiency of jobs, we are creating ample jobs, the challenge is really in the mismatch of skills and how we can bridge that."

He said technological developments have changed the nature of Singapore's economy and the jobs that are created.

These jobs require a new set of skills and proficiencies, and a willingness by the workforce to acquire them to meet the changing needs of the industry.

Mr Iswaran added that it is the collective effort of all stakeholders, including employers, workers, government agencies, and educational institutions, to work together to create a "comprehensive eco-system for the continuous development of skills".

Citing the successful collaboration between SP Professional and Adult Continuing Education (PACE) Academy, Workforce Singapore, SkillsFuture Singapore, and the industry to promote the development of a skilled and future-ready workforce, Mr Iswaran encouraged more of such partnerships.

He noted the Local Biologics Skills Training (BOOST) and Development and Apprenticeship (DNA) programmes launched in SP last year, which were introduced to equip those who are new to the biologics and pharmaceutical manufacturing industry with relevant training.

Individuals like Mr Sheikh Harun Mohammad Rafik, 36, who made a mid-career switch and sought relevant upgrading, were commended by Mr Iswaran.

Despite having a Masters in Sports Science, Mr Sheikh Harun moved into the maritime and offshore industry because family members were in it.

Last year, he pursued a Diploma (Conversion) in Shipping and Marine Offshore, hoping to gain more knowledge and interact with more people from the industry. He is now a technical & operations executive with a maritime firm.

"I have always believed in continuous learning and having this diploma gives me more confidence," he said. "It shows my bosses that I'm very serious about this industry and hopefully will be able to pick up more skills soon."