Review if SkillsFuture funds are really well spent

As our society goes through its changes along with the evolving global landscape, upskilling has been front and centre in charting our way for the future.

It can be difficult, but swallowing the bitter pill is usually necessary.

Our Government needs to go beyond its comfort zone, as much as the people and organisations must, to break through and, hopefully, collectively move to the next level in societal development.

I was however puzzled by the way financial resources are being used in SkillsFuture Credit (Redesigning jobs, retooling mindsets; Feb 11).

The funding support costs $1 billion a year and substantial amounts go into paying for training providers, manpower resources to run the scheme and, last but not least, publicity.

Much of the money spent appears to be going into generating "awareness". Isn't this a fairly expensive proposition?

This also appears to be an easy way to address questions about results. The result is a number which says 285,000 people benefited, but it does not tell if the funding support is showing results. But conversely, it becomes difficult to draw up rubrics to measure the programme.

It may be true that numbers tell part of the story. But mindset change is more effective in the long run.

Are we being imprudent to shift difficult-to-answer questions about output and results, and conveniently blaming mindset and cultural change for hard-to-tackle situations?

Cultural and mindset challenges are problems, but there could be many more reasons for programmes not working.

There is no straightforward answer as to whether the money is well spent.

Trial and error are inevitable. It may be years before changes show results and there is also a possibility that a programme may fail.

But ultimately, we need to be honest with ourselves about how we are doing.

Tan Kar Quan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'Review if SkillsFuture funds are really well spent'. Print Edition | Subscribe