Budget debate

Different strokes for different folks

Visitors checking out the courses available at a SkillsFuture roadshow on Jan 9.
Visitors checking out the courses available at a SkillsFuture roadshow on Jan 9.PHOTO: ST FILE

Different strategies have to be adopted to explain SkillsFuture effectively to different groups of people, MPs said yesterday.

Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) said: "We need to convince the man on the street that Singapore's future jobs and the funding of our social safety net depend on how future-proof each of us is."

One way, she said, is to use everyday examples to highlight the importance of learning new skills.

She cited a Hokkien-speaking resident in her constituency who runs a heartland shop selling fashion accessories. "She told me that she has already been buying her stock from the Internet when we spoke about reducing the cost of business," said Ms Phua.

Another way is to appoint ambassadors to identify training programmes that may be useful for certain groups, and explain to them the advantages of such skills.

The SkillsFuture scheme aims to instil a culture of lifelong learning among Singaporeans so they can stay relevant and compete amid a more challenging economic landscape. In January, citizens aged 25 and above got $500 in SkillsFuture credit that can be used to pay for training courses, and regular top-ups will be made to their accounts.

Labour MP Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) called for a targeted approach to help low-wage workers understand SkillsFuture, noting that they are mainly mature with lower education.

Nominated MP K. Thanaletchimi said it was important to reach out to all workers, including those who are reluctant or hesitant about retraining.

Some work long hours, and overtime almost every day, so bite-sized training courses may work better for them, she said. "We need to be open and accept that individuals are different and therefore,we need to employ different strokes for different folks."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Different strokes for different folks'. Print Edition | Subscribe