Ong Ye Kung to helm SkillsFuture initiatives

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung will be helming SkillsFuture initiatives.
Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung will be helming SkillsFuture initiatives.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Move to follow revamp involving MOM, MOE and WDA set to be announced today

There will be a new man in charge of the national skills upgrading drive.

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung will be helming SkillsFuture initiatives, following a restructuring that involves the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

The revamp, which is expected to be announced today, will see the WDA transfer some of its SkillsFuture functions on the training of adult workers to MOE.

After the revamp, it will retain its other core functions, such as running the National Jobs Bank as well as drawing up and maintaining national training standards under its Workforce Skills Qualifications system.

The WDA, which was set up in 2003 to coordinate the training of working adults, is currently under MOM.

 
 
 

There are several independent programmes under SkillsFuture.

A key one is the SkillsFuture Credit scheme, under which Singaporeans aged 25 and older will receive $500 to enrol in courses to upgrade their skills from this year. Other programmes include subsidies for workers and employers, when working adults switch careers.

Sources said the reorganisation was in the works after the appointment of the new Cabinet in October last year, but it was approved by the Cabinet only this month.

Last month, MOE, MOM and the WDA said in a reply to Straits Times' queries on the coordination of SkillsFuture programmes that various initiatives "are divided between various agencies and organisations".

It led to a situation where the WDA had to report to both MOM and MOE, depending on the programme it ran.

The revamp will streamline the implementation of SkillsFuture under one body in MOE, said a source.

Another source added that information on the restructuring was tightly controlled, and the WDA board members, key officials in MOE affected by the move and the People's Action Party (PAP) MPs who are Government Parliamentary Committee members were informed of the changes only yesterday.

The Straits Times understands that all MOE staff will be informed of the changes today.

Mr Ong, 46, is a key member of the PAP's fourth-generation leadership. He was also the WDA's chief executive from 2005 to 2008.

When contacted last night, Mr Ong declined to elaborate on the changes, saying that he will comment after the official announcement is made.

The Straits Times' queries to the WDA were redirected to MOM.

Last night, an MOM spokesman would only say: "An official announcement would be made soon."

SkillsFuture is the national initiative to train workers to ensure that Singapore employees have the skills wanted by employers.

It is spearheaded by a national tripartite council of business leaders, government officials and unionists, led by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Mr Ong is currently a member of the council.

There are several independent programmes under SkillsFuture.

A key one is the SkillsFuture Credit scheme, under which Singaporeans aged 25 and older will receive $500 to enrol in courses to upgrade their skills from this year. Other programmes include subsidies for workers and employers, when working adults switch careers.

The national movement aims to integrate education, training and career progression so that Singapore's future workers have hard, technical skills to get jobs and remain employable.

  • Additional reporting by Janice Tai
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2016, with the headline 'Ong Ye Kung to helm SkillsFuture initiatives'. Print Edition | Subscribe