Consider SkillsFuture language, IT and service excellence courses: Ong Ye Kung

A robotic workshop being conducted at the SkillsFuture-supported Lifelong Learning Festival on Oct 28, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Those who do not know what SkillsFuture courses to enrol in can consider learning languages, info-comm technology and service excellence, said Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung.

Singaporeans "cannot go wrong" if they focus their learning on these three areas, he said on Sunday (Dec 10).

"Even for myself, I am learning a new language," he said at the launch of a new SkillsFuture public outreach drive at Woodlands Community Club.

Mr Ong told The Straits Times that he has been taking Malay lessons for the past year.

"Conversational Malay is a very useful language to know in the course of my work. It is also a window to the Malay culture, which is important for me to understand more deeply," he said.

"I have decided not to claim SkillsFuture credit for all my training," he added.

All Singaporeans aged 25 and above receive from the Government $500 in training credits that they can use to pay for various courses under the national SkillsFuture programme.

On Sunday, Mr Ong and North West Community Development Council (CDC) Mayor Teo Ho Pin launched a new SkillsFuture public outreach drive for residents living in areas such as Bukit Panjang, Woodlands and Sembawang.

North West Community Development Council Mayor Teo Ho Pin holds up an Easi-link card created by SkillsFuture@Northwest. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

These residents will get a SkillsFuture hotline which they can call to sign up for a free 90-minute talk on skills upgrading and career planning. The hotline - 62485500 - will be manned during office hours on weekdays.

The talks, in English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, are held at the 21 community clubs under the North West CDC. They are part of a national public outreach programme launched about two months ago by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam to get Singaporeans thinking about skills upgrading and lifelong learning.

North West CDC is the first among the five CDCs here to set up a dedicated SkillsFuture hotline for its residents. Dr Teo said the CDC is aiming to get some 20,000 residents to attend the talks over the next three years.

On Sunday, Mr Ong said that the latest series of SkillsFuture talks "is not so much training", but aimed at helping residents know what courses would be useful to them, based on their past work experiences and future career goals.

"They know they must upgrade, but they do not know what they must upgrade to," said Mr Ong. "They may end up going for courses that are not so useful."

On whether the latest drive will add to the fatigue caused by the constant bombardment of SkillsFuture messages, Dr Teo said: "No."

He added: "The level of awareness is still not there. People may have heard the word 'SkillsFuture', but they do not know what it is all about."

One of those who plan to sign up for the free talks is Madam Anna Tan.

The 58-year-old grandmother of five said that she is interested in IT and floral arrangement courses.

Retiree Anna Tan, 58, is interested in IT and floral arrangement courses. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

"Nowadays, even when we go to the market and hawker centre, we can also use our phones to scan and pay," said the Bukit Panjang resident, who quit her job as a clerk 10 years ago to look after her grandchildren. "I have not tried it, but I want to learn how to do it to keep up with the times."

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