Forum: Lifelong learning not enough to thrive in an increasingly volatile economy

I applaud the Government’s latest attempt at revamping the lifelong learning system into one that will ensure a fair and equitable system for all Singaporeans to embark on their skills upgrading journey (S’pore needs lifelong learning system that helps all workers: Tharman, Nov 1).

I have been an adult educator for the past one decade for SkillsFuture courses.

Hitherto, the feedback I gathered from participants in these classes is that the schemes designed to facilitate Singaporeans’ skills upgrading journey have been a mixture of hits and misses.

While participants welcome assistance from the Government to ameliorate the financial burden of the course fees, they often question the purpose of attending such courses.

They are becoming increasingly sceptical of policymakers’ rhetoric of leveraging lifelong learning as a way of increasing their employability and, subsequently, solving their economic woes.

The average Singaporean struggling to juggle work, social and family commitments while embarking on a skills upgrading programme might feel disheartened that there is a long journey ahead of him.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – he may not secure long-term, meaningful employment despite completing the training.

We must explore other ways to survive and eventually thrive in an increasingly volatile and dynamic economy, such as by promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, encouraging local workers to export their current skill sets, knowledge and expertise to regional markets, and facilitating local small and medium-sized enterprises in their quest to spread our Singapore brand overseas.

Jason Goh

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