Individuals should take charge of own learning journey: Iswaran

Mr Sheikh Harun Mohammad Rafik decided to make a mid-career switch to the maritime and offshore industry, even though he had a master's in sports science and was a national silat coach.
Mr Sheikh Harun Mohammad Rafik decided to make a mid-career switch to the maritime and offshore industry, even though he had a master's in sports science and was a national silat coach.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Educational institutions and industries must work closely to ensure that knowledge acquired and skills developed remain relevant to changing needs of the economy.

But even as they evolve, individuals must take ownership of their own learning journey and to forge their future, said Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry). "Rapid technological advancements are fundamentally changing the nature of our economy and the work that we do. To stay competitive and continue to create good jobs for our people, industries have to restructure, business models must adapt, and Singaporeans need to acquire new skills," he said.

This was his message to the 651 adult graduands from Singapore Polytechnic's (SP) Continuing Education and Training courses who were receiving their diplomas and certificates at a ceremony at SP's Convention Centre yesterday. This year, 5,600 students from SP will be receiving their full-time and part-time diplomas and certificates.

While reiterating points made earlier this week by Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, Mr Iswaran said: "The basic issue that we face today is not an insufficiency of jobs, we are creating ample jobs, the challenge is really in the mismatch of skills and how we can bridge that."

He said technological developments have changed the nature of Singapore's economy and the jobs that are created. These jobs require a new set of skills and proficiencies, and a willingness by the workforce to acquire them to meet the changing needs of the industry.

Mr Iswaran added that it is the collective effort of all stakeholders, including employers, workers, government agencies and educational institutions, to work together to create a "comprehensive eco-system for the continuous development of skills".

Citing the successful collaboration between SP Professional and Adult Continuing Education (Pace) Academy, Workforce Singapore, SkillsFuture Singapore and the industry to promote the development of a skilled and future- ready workforce, Mr Iswaran encouraged more of such partnerships.

Individuals like Mr Sheikh Harun Mohammad Rafik, 36, who made a mid-career switch and sought relevant upgrading, were commended by Mr Iswaran.

Despite having a master's in sports science, Mr Sheikh Harun, who was a national silat coach, moved into the maritime and offshore industry as he had an interest in it and had relatives working in the industry. Last year, he pursued a Diploma (Conversion) in Shipping and Marine Offshore, hoping to gain more knowledge and interact with people from the industry. He is now a technical and operations executive with a maritime firm.

"I have always believed in continuous learning and having this diploma gives me more confidence," he said. "It shows my bosses that I'm very serious about this industry and hopefully will be able to pick up more skills soon."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 06, 2017, with the headline 'Individuals should take charge of own learning journey: Iswaran'. Print Edition | Subscribe