Makeover for training sector to help workers pick up new skills

A screenshot of Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang delivering the opening address at the 2020 Adult Learning Symposium, on Aug 13, 2020.
A screenshot of Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang delivering the opening address at the 2020 Adult Learning Symposium, on Aug 13, 2020.PHOTO: INSTITUTE FOR ADULT LEARNING

Customised lessons for smarter coaching; more training led by industry at workplaces

The path to picking up new skills amid the job uncertainties brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic is set to become easier - for workers and their trainers alike.

More lessons and training resources will be delivered online. A customised curriculum could be developed for each learner for smarter coaching.

More training will also be led by industry and conducted at workplaces to make it more relevant.

The changes will follow a new plan for Singapore's training and adult education industry, which was rolled out yesterday, with the sector set to play a key role in equipping workers with the skills they need for opportunities coming their way.

The Industry Development Plan (IDP) will directly impact 20,000 workers across private education institutions, corporate training organisations, and public sector training institutions like the Civil Service College Singapore. It will also change the way thousands of local workers are taught new skills.

Announcing the launch of the plan at the biennial Adult Learning Symposium, Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang said Covid-19 has already brought about a fundamental transformation of the workplace and classroom. "There has never been a stronger need for workers to adapt by shifting into new job roles and picking up new skills," she said.

At the same time, the training sector itself will not be spared from the disruption that workers and businesses across Singapore are experiencing today, she added. That is why she suggested that it should deepen tie-ups with industry and conduct more training at workplaces.

The sector also needs to sharpen its digital edge and offer more online learning, she said.

To help adult educators and trainers in this journey, the authorities have put together pre-approved digital learning platforms.

"Training providers can use such platforms to create and deliver digital content to learners online any time, anywhere," said Ms Gan.

She pointed to existing subsidies of up to 80 per cent under the Productivity Solutions Grant for those taking this route.

A new initiative will also be launched next month. Over the next three years, it aims to pair 200 training providers with digital curriculum developers who will guide them in creating and delivering online lessons.


Corporate trainers and educators will also be provided with a step-by-step guide on the digital solutions and new skills needed as the industry pivots towards new ways of delivering lessons. And when a new National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning is launched later this year, they will get help in developing the skills of their own employees, said Ms Gan.

"But the digital transformation of the (adult education) sector needs to go deeper than providing more online learning," she added. "Training providers... need to fundamentally digitalise your organisations in order to unlock operational efficiencies, streamline routine processes, and glean insights from data." The new IDP will guide training providers for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this journey.

Recruitment agency Adecco Singapore's country manager Betul Genc said demand for talent with IT expertise is likely to keep growing as businesses digitalise in response to the pandemic, especially in areas such as cyber security. She added: "The training and adult education sector has to play a collaborative and engaging role with both employers and talent to keep up to date on emerging or in-demand skills. It also has to go in-depth into the challenges (encountered) in encouraging upskilling and reskilling."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2020, with the headline 'Makeover for training sector to help workers pick up new skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe