Better pay for WSQ trainees

A national training and certification system has continued to boost the wages and likelihood of employment for trainees, a study by government economists has found.

People who completed bite-sized Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) modules had real wages that were 0.8 per cent higher on average in the year after training, compared with those who had not attended training under the scheme.

The benefits were greater for those who achieved a WSQ full qualification through completing several modules. They had an average real wage premium of 5.8 per cent in the year after training.

These findings were published in the Economic Survey of Singapore report released yesterday by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. They are similar to an earlier study which found that WSQ trainees enjoyed higher wages.

Singapore Human Resources Institute president Erman Tan said the WSQ system can give people a foundation and unlock their potential in new areas.

The challenge, said Institute for Human Resource Professionals chief executive Mayank Parekh, is for the system to keep up with the skills needed as jobs evolve at an ever faster pace.

For the latest study, economists Marsha Teo and Wen Jia Ying examined data from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) - which funds WSQ programmes and awards the certification - on all trainees who received a full qualification or a statement of achievement after completing a module from 2011 to 2016. They also looked at wages and workplace characteristics over time.

The economists found that besides the wage improvements, trainees who were not working during the year they received training were also more likely to be employed in the following year than people who did not attend training.

On average, those who received a statement of achievement were 3.5 percentage points more likely to be employed, while those who received a full qualification were 2.6 percentage points more likely to be employed.

But they noted that productivity and wage gains from training may take time to materialise. For example, trainees who gain new skills and switch firms may take a pay cut in return for possible higher wages in the future.

For Ms Irene Loo, 40, taking a WSQ diploma in tourism a decade ago helped her learn about other parts of the hotel industry beyond the food and beverage department she worked in.

Now a restaurant manager, she said: "It's important to expose myself to other skills like marketing and training other people."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2019, with the headline 'Better pay for WSQ trainees'. Print Edition | Subscribe