WSQ training helped boost real wages and likelihood of employment: MTI economists

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.
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.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - 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 to those who had not attended training.

The benefits were larger 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 on Friday (Feb 15) by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. They are similar to a 2012 study by the then Singapore Workforce Development Agency which found that earlier cohorts of WSQ trainees enjoyed higher wages.

For the latest study, economists Marsha Teo and Wen Jia Ying examined data from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) - which funds WSQ programmes and awards the certifications - 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 data on 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.

 
 

"The human capital accumulated through training may raise workers' productivity and in turn, their wages, as employers reward more productive employees," said Ms Teo and Ms Wen in the report.

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

Overall, there is "strong evidence that individuals have benefited from WSQ training aimed at upgrading their skills and enhancing their employability", they added.