Easier now for seniors to pick up IT skills

Dr Yaacob (at right) helping a participant use a tablet at an IT workshop conducted in Malay yesterday, during the Silver IT Fest 2016.
Dr Yaacob (at right) helping a participant use a tablet at an IT workshop conducted in Malay yesterday, during the Silver IT Fest 2016.PHOTO: INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE

IDA and PA join hands to offer IT training at 20 more community centres from next month

Whether it's to learn how to use text messaging applications, surf the Internet, or edit their digital photographs, older Singaporeans will soon have a range of courses and more venues to pick up infocomm technology (IT) skills from.

From next month, a new partnership between the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and the People's Association will see 20 more community centres around the island offering IT training. They will join the existing 10 IT training locations appointed by the IDA - comprising four community centres and another six run by non-profit and voluntary welfare organisations.

Called Silver Infocomm Junctions, these learning hubs offer those aged 50 and above affordable courses priced between $5 and $10 an hour.

With more venues, the number of classes offered annually will be more than doubled from the current 800 to 2,000. The courses range from beginner-level ones on how to use a computer, to advanced topics such as how to conduct online transactions.

The addition of more IT training venues was announced by Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

"As Singapore moves towards being a smart nation, we must ensure that our seniors can continue to keep up with technology and benefit from it," Dr Yaacob said, speaking at the Silver IT Fest 2016, a two-day event held at the Lifelong Learning Institute in Eunos. The event, now in its 10th year, is a carnival where older Singaporeans can enjoy free IT tutorials and workshops, with games and activities for their families. It ends today.

Dr Yaacob also said yesterday that the IDA will team up with the Lifelong Learning Council (LLC) and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) on a project to make it "less intimidating and more comfortable" for older Singaporeans to pick up IT skills.

Through the collaboration, older folk will be able to take bite-sized lessons - of 45 minutes to an hour - on how to use mobile apps, at convenient locations such as community clubs and shopping malls.

Madam Lim Beng Choo, 55, who was at the Silver IT Fest, said that while she already owned a Samsung tablet, she did not know how to use many functions, such as logging on to a public Wi-Fi network, which she learnt yesterday.

The former human resources officer added: "I want to upgrade myself. I've not been working for more than 24 years, and I feel that I lack a lot of IT skills."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 11, 2016, with the headline 'Easier now for seniors to pick up IT skills'. Print Edition | Subscribe