WDA to roll out new job, training portal

WDA chief Ng Cher Pong says the portal, to be launched next year, will make it easier for workers to identify courses and jobs they can gun for. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
WDA chief Ng Cher Pong says the portal, to be launched next year, will make it easier for workers to identify courses and jobs they can gun for. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

One-stop website will be designed to make it more convenient for workers

The new chief of the national training body admits that choosing one of its courses can be confusing, complicated and challenging.

That is why he is looking to launch a one-stop job and training portal next year to simplify the selection process.

Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) chief executive Ng Cher Pong said he too was surprised by the sheer number of courses available when he was doing research on the higher education sector as deputy secretary of policy at the Education Ministry.

"I accept the feedback that (the training landscape) is confusing for individuals... It is hard for the individual to navigate," he said.

His solution is a portal named Individual Learning Portfolio (ILP), which will guide workers step-by-step to select suitable training programmes, he said.

First, workers will learn about their strengths and weaknesses through self-profiling questionnaires. The results will help them to identify courses that plug gaps in their skills.

Second, workers do not have to visit individual websites of the nearly 500 WDA training providers to find out about courses. Information will be aggregated in the new portal.

Third, the website will have links to a job bank run by WDA so workers know which positions they can gun for with better training.

Mr Ng, 41, told The Straits Times earlier this week, in his first in-depth interview since taking over WDA last November, that the portal is tested by some 18,000 students and workers.

The agency will use the feedback on the website to improve and aims to roll it out for all Singaporeans and permanent residents next year.

The portal can help workers be more nimble and adaptable - critical traits because technological advancements will lead to industries shutting down and others emerging frequently.

Mr Ng said a visit to car manufacturer BMW's plant in Germany last month highlighted to him the impact that technology has on transforming jobs.

He was struck by how empty a section of the factory was as most of the production was done by robots. The machines, however, were manned by a team of skilled technicians at the back of the factory.

"The technicians had to do diagnostics and intervene when it was necessary," he said.

Being prepared to change jobs is especially importantly for professionals, managers and executives (PMEs), he added.

They need a long period of training to take on a similar-level job if they switch industries.

However, the transition will be smoother if they "continue learning even in areas not directly relevant to their work", he said. "It would make re-learning and unlearning easier."

WDA aims to make learning more convenient for professionals to encourage more of them to be trained.

More courses will be conducted through online lectures so that they can learn at their own pace while juggling work.

"It all boils down to empowering the Singapore workforce to take responsibility for their own learning, to take responsibility for their own careers. And for WDA as an enabler to support them," he said.

ameltan@sph.com.sg

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