SINGAPORE – A new Singpass-based system for taking attendance will be launched for SkillsFuture courses by the end of September to make it easier to validate that people have attended the courses, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) chief executive Tan Kok Yam said on Thursday.
The move comes as an updated transformation road map was announced for the training and adult education sector on Thursday.
Mr Tan said the new system is meant to reduce the administrative burden on training providers as well as SSG, and is among one of the initiatives the government agency in charge of lifelong learning will roll out in 2023 as part of the sector’s transformation efforts.
He was speaking at the inaugural Training and Adult Education Conference at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, where Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang launched the Training and Adult Education Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025.
The training and adult education sector is tasked with supporting lifelong learning and developing the workforce as industries transform, and is pivotal in ensuring the success of the SkillsFuture movement, said Ms Gan.
Under the road map, which is an update of an earlier plan launched in 2018, a key strategy is to improve the relevance and responsiveness of the sector to training needs as Singapore prepares its economy for the future.
Ms Gan said: “As a key enabler for workforce transformation, the training and adult education sector must therefore respond even faster and more effectively to supply accessible and quality training that meets the needs of businesses.”
Three other strategies for the sector, which employs 23,000 workers in more than 4,300 companies, include scaling up its innovation and digitalisation efforts, investing in the training of adult educators, and going international.
Elaborating on the strategies, SSG said in a statement that it will work more closely with companies, unions, trade associations and professional bodies to help ensure that training meets industry demand. This will be done by facilitating collaboration between training providers and companies, for instance, and also driving skills recognition.
Ms Gan noted that the sector was able to respond swiftly during the Covid-19 pandemic and had ramped up training capacity by 91,000 places, so workers could be trained during the downtime. This not only helped companies train their workers during the downtime, but also lifted the morale of the workers, she added.
The pandemic had also spurred the adoption of digital and technology-based training solutions. SSG said it will build on this momentum by co-funding promising innovations in the sector through the Innovative Learning 2.0, or iN.Learn 2.0, initiative that provides subsidies and temporary regulatory waivers, among other things.
It is also working with the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), designated a National Centre of Excellence for Adult Learning, to translate research in the science of adult learning into practical tools.
To support the professional development of adult educators, the IAL will also help them acquire the skills needed in growing areas such as education technology, workplace learning and career coaching.
SSG has also revamped the Workforce Skills Qualifications Advanced Certificate in Learning and Performance, so that adult educators can gain the skills and credentials they need in a shorter time.
Mr Tan said this change was made based on feedback that it was difficult to get professionals to commit to the training, as it took too long to be licensed as an adult educator.
Under the ITM, SSG, together with Enterprise Singapore and the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will also help promising training providers export their services to the region and beyond.
Mr Tan said it was important for training providers to get feedback from adult learners and companies so that the sector can improve its services to better match demand.
“The training and adult education sector plays a major role in raising the employability of Singaporeans and the capabilities of enterprises. SSG will do its part to realise the ITM strategies and help our training partners succeed,” he added.
At the event, Ms Gan also warned those looking to abuse SSG grants or who are misrepresenting SSG programmes.
She said those caught doing so will be taken to task under the SSG Agency (Amendment) Act and Skills Development Levy (Amendment) Act. These Acts were amended in January to strengthen SSG’s regulatory powers against grant fraud and abuse.
In 2017, a criminal syndicate cheated the agency of $39.9 million in grants by submitting claims through dormant companies and training providers. Last year, SSG was also flagged by the Auditor-General’s Office and Public Accounts Committee for lapses in disbursing about $4.22 million in course grants. The agency has said none of the overpayments involved fraud.
Ms Gan said: “With stronger safeguards in place, individuals and employers can have greater confidence to participate in training.
“This will, in turn, benefit the majority of the training providers who are bona fide in their commitment to workforce upskilling and training.”