Older cabbies learn how to ride on digital platforms

Sixty cabbies attended a SkillsFuture For Digital Workplace pilot programme designed to help them overcome their fear of new digital platforms.

Trainees were shown how to use digital platforms and applications like Parking.sg, e-payment methods like PayNow, Internet banking and other relevant business applications at Republic Polytechnic (RP) yesterday.

The programme, delivered by NTUC LearningHub (LHUB), National Taxi Association (NTA) and RP, aims to arm taxi drivers with practical and relevant skills to help them in their daily work.

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence Ong Ye Kung joined the trainees as RP's School of Infocomm Cyber Ambassadors guided the cabbies, whose average age was 62 years.

Said LHUB chief executive officer Kwek Kok Kwong: "Technology is always very threatening and frightening to some people. So what we try to do is to make the learning as experiential and as fun for the learners as possible."

Mr Yeo Tong Chye, 69, a cabby since 1978 who attended the programme, said: "It's not that I can't learn, but I'm only able to learn slowly."

NTA president Raymond Ong said taxi drivers are concerned that they may not be able to cope with technology. He said the association intends to start a "buddy system" involving younger or tech-savvy cabbies teaching older ones how to embrace digital technology.

The taxi industry is undergoing rapid changes due to disruptions brought about by technology.

The Straits Times reported in July that the taxi population has dropped by more than 10 per cent after ride-hailing apps Uber and Grab arrived here in 2013. According to last year's figures, there are 25,000 active taxi drivers in Singapore, with half aged 55 and above.

LHUB aims to train another 1,000 taxi drivers next year. The course curriculum will include 10 hours of classroom sessions and two hours of off-site learning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 22, 2017, with the headline 'Older cabbies learn how to ride on digital platforms'. Print Edition | Subscribe