540,000 Singaporeans benefited from SkillsFuture initiatives in 2020

Introduced in 2015, the SkillsFuture national movement aims to build a culture of skills development and lifelong learning. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About 540,000 Singaporeans benefited from initiatives supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) last year, 40,000 more than in 2019.

The number of enterprises that benefited remained constant at 14,000, SSG said on Tuesday (Feb 9) in a statement on its annual yearly review.

Introduced in 2015, the SkillsFuture national movement aims to build a culture of skills development and lifelong learning.

Measures in response to Covid-19

"SSG's efforts over the years to build up a robust and sizeable continuing education and training ecosystem have enabled us to respond rapidly to the impact of Covid-19 on individuals and enterprises," said the agency.

New measures were quickly implemented, and existing initiatives were adjusted to support individuals and enterprises affected by the pandemic, it added.

The SGUnited Skills Programme and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme were launched with the aim of providing individuals with training opportunities to upskill themselves and enhance their employability for transition to new careers or roles.

Both programmes are part of the national SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.

As of December last year, about 9,800 individuals had enrolled in those programmes - 7,200 under the SGUnited Skills Programme and 2,600 under the company training track of the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme.

The infocomm technology and media, professional services, manufacturing and healthcare sectors reported high enrolment, SSG said.

Enterprises in severely affected sectors also received aid through the Enhanced Training Support Package, which was rolled out in March last year to provide enhanced absentee payroll support and enhanced course fee subsidies for eight sectors, including air transport and tourism.

These two sectors had a strong take-up rate, with more than 59,000 training places and 44,000 training places filled respectively, out of a total of about 155,000 training places.

Some of the skills that employees took up under this support package include data analytics, digital commerce and customer service, as well as soft skills in communication and adapting to change.

In total, more than 72,000 employees across 1,300 enterprises benefited.

Long-term focus on individuals

SSG noted that it remains focused on its "long-term plan of strengthening the skills ecosystem to support individuals and enterprises", alongside its support measures in response to the Covid-19-related economic downturn.

More Singaporeans - 188,000, up from 156,000 in 2019 - also utilised their SkillsFuture Credit last year. The scheme encourages individuals to take ownership of their learning.

The SkillsFuture Advice workshops, which are conducted in the heartland to help residents chart their learning journey, served about 22,000 individuals last year, down from over 54,000 in 2019.

Long-term focus on enterprises

Enterprises, especially small and medium ones, are also a key focus, SSG said.

Since the introduction of the National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning, which helps local firms develop their own groups of certified instructors, about 180 enterprises have embarked annually on programmes and implemented workplace learning processes.

About 250 enterprises also benefited from the SkillsFuture Queen Bee partnerships last year, tapping the expertise and knowledge of anchor "Queen Bee" companies to enhance their employee skills development and workplace learning capabilities.

About 3,400 enterprises have also sent their employees for training in courses under SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit.

Work-study educational pathways

In the area of educational pathways, students from the Institute of Technical Education as well as the polytechnics and autonomous universities continued to participate in the SkillsFuture Work-Study programmes despite the economic downturn, said SSG.

Last year, 590 companies participated in the programmes, providing placements for about 1,700 individuals to gain work and industry experience while pursuing academic and work qualifications.

This was down from 600 companies and 2,200 individuals in 2019.

SSG chief executive Ong Tze-Ch'in said: "2020 was a challenging year... As we look ahead to 2021, SSG will continue to support individuals, focusing on unemployed job seekers, and employers, especially those in affected sectors.

"We will work with our training providers, SkillsFuture Queen Bees, and industry and community partners to increase the accessibility and relevance of training for Singaporeans and for Singapore."

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