Taking responsibility for lifelong learning

Office workers in the Central Business District on Dec 6, 2018.
Office workers in the Central Business District on Dec 6, 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

Implicit in the focus on adult and lifelong learning is the desire to raise labour productivity levels in Singapore.

Going further, it has been reported that Singapore is trying to create a meritocracy of skills and develop a new social culture "where people gain satisfaction from learning at every stage of life... as well as from mastering the skill and being part of a community of learners" (SUSS and IAL team up to advance adult education, April 26).

Shifting socio-cultural mindsets to be more proactive and to participate is as important as increasing the number of educational opportunities.

In setting broader goals, it would be productive for the Government to consider the eagerness of Singaporeans, their willingness and ability to balance work, family, and personal commitments with training and development, and their future trajectories.

The idea that individuals are wedded to particular jobs, companies, or industries throughout their working life is changing. The future generation of workers should first develop a long-term view of their careers and understand that they are likely to make multiple switches.

Second, they should acknowledge that the knowledge and skills gained in their 20s or 30s may no longer be relevant later in life.

Third, they should remain open to exploration throughout their lives.

Such scenarios bring attention to personal responsibility, the role of employers, and how the Government and, in particular, the education sector can assist in these endeavours.

Along this tangent, employers should assume some responsibility for the meaningful training and development of their employees, and constantly help them evaluate their priorities. Initiatives under the SkillsFuture umbrella reflect the Government's vision - but has the message been communicated effectively?

How many workers have taken up the programmes and services? To what extent have they benefited from these programmes? And conversely, what are the reasons for non-participation, even among those who might gain the most?

Kwan Jin Yao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 01, 2019, with the headline 'Taking responsibility for lifelong learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe