SINGAPORE - A team of 22 students representing Singapore at an international skills competition stand to receive larger cash prizes if they win medals this year, with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) coming in as a sponsor.
The cash prizes for the global Worldskils contest - touted as the "Olympics of Skills" - in previous years were mainly funded by the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education's WorldSkills Singapore Fund.
This year's gold medallists will each win $20,000, nearly a threefold increase from $7,000 in previous years.
Those who clinch silver medals will win $10,000, double the previous sum of $5,000, and bronze medallists will get $5,000, up from $3,000.
In addition, the winner of the Albert Vidal Award - the gold medallist with the overall highest score across all categories - will receive $30,000 this year. In the past, he or she would win only $3,000.
This year, the medallists will also have a new award sponsored by WDA to encourage them to work in the same industry as the skill area they are competing in. They will each be given a maximum of $5,000 over five years if they go on to work in the same field after graduation.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat announced these initiatives at the send-off ceremony of the Singapore team who will be showing their skills in areas such as beauty therapy and healthcare in the international WorldSkills contest next month.
It will be held in Brazil from Aug 11 to 16.
The 22 young men and women in Singapore's contingent come from the ITE and polytechnics.
Speaking to reporters at ITE's Ang Mo Kio headquarters, Mr Heng said that the boost in cash prizes and the introduction of a new cash award signal the importance of skills development among young people.
A national programme called SkillsFuture was started last year to encourage Singaporeans to develop specialised industry skills and adopt the habit of lifelong learning.