SkillsFuture Singapore to reduce costs for training providers while regulating sector

SkillsFuture Singapore will also be increasing scrutiny on non-Workforce Skills Qualifications programmes, in a bid to regulate the overall quality of training provided. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) is reducing costs such as regulatory fees for the training providers it funds.

These providers include private education institutions, which can offer both government-approved Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) and non-WSQ programmes.

At the same time, SSG will also be increasing scrutiny on non-WSQ programmes, in a bid to regulate the overall quality of training provided.

These initiatives were announced by Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Education Chee Hong Tat on Friday (April 12).

He was speaking to the media during a visit to the Textile and Fashion Training Centre, the training arm of the industry association for textile and fashion.

On reducing costs, Mr Chee said: "What we want to do is look at how we can simplify the rules and regulations.

"By doing so, we can streamline some of the requirements and pass through some of the cost savings to the companies. By making it simpler, we are making it cheaper, and also faster."

The number of regulatory fees for private education institutions will be cut from nine to three, with an annual cost saving of $380 to $640 for each provider.

Private education institutions include the Singapore Institute of Management and Kaplan.

The three application fees they will still have to pay, when they seek approval to run new courses, are: issuance of registration, renewal of registration and course permission.

The fees to be removed include application fees for notice of change of management and premises and notice of deployment for teachers.

SSG will also simplify processes for training providers that offer WSQ programmes.

For example, a new compliance and performance-focused training provider management system will replace the biennial Continuous Improvement Review process.

This will translate into savings of $1,605 for WSQ training providers every two years, SSG said, adding that it will "continue to retain oversight of WSQ training providers on their course delivery quality, outcome performance and standards".

The cost incurred by WSQ training providers in issuing e-certificates will also be further reduced by 50 per cent, from $1.28 to 64 cents.

Mr Chee stressed that the cost savings will not be due to subsidies.

He said: "The principle of cost recovery is still important. The way we save costs is not to subsidise, but to simplify and remove some of the unnecessary steps; reduce some of the compliance requirements... The savings can be passed through to the private education institutions and the training providers.

"They can devote more resources to developing their curriculum, investing in their training systems for the benefit of their customers."

But, to raise the overall quality of the training and adult education sector, SSG will also introduce new fees for training providers who do not offer WSQ programmes.

From July 1 this year, new non-WSQ training providers will have to pay SSG a one-off $21.40 registration fee.

All training providers applying for funding for non-WSQ courses will also have to pay SSG $107 for each course they choose to offer, to ensure they are relevant to the industry.

SSG chief executive Ng Cher Pong said: "Given that the skills demanded by industries are changing rapidly, the training and adult education sector needs to focus on supporting these fast-evolving skills needs.

"SSG is continuing to strengthen the regulatory system, while taking steps to reduce compliance costs and regulatory processes to support training providers in meeting the needs of the different industries."

Mr Chee first mentioned some of these changes in Parliament during last month's Committee of Supply debate, saying that SSG would reduce compliance costs for training providers and make it more convenient for them to seek regulatory approval.

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