A total of four ministries will be looking at how structural support can be enhanced for Singaporeans in their 40s and 50s who may need “significant” reskilling for a second boost in their careers, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing announced in Parliament on March 7.
Speaking at the Committee of Supply debate on March 7, Chan said that the government was aware of how many of these workers might not be looking to switch jobs or industries, but instead are cognisant their current jobs need upgraded skills to keep pace with evolving business and technologies.
This move is part of the government’s intensifying focus on “continual learning throughout life,” he said.
Middle-aged workers are more vulnerable to retrenchment
The move is also part of MOE’s focus on the following two areas: providing more opportunities for Singaporeans to pursue a degree or diploma, especially as working adults, and enhancing structural support for mid-career rescaling.
Chan added that instead of just looking at the proportion of each cohort going to university instead of starting work, the government would instead focus on ensuring that Singaporeans can improve their skills continually, according to their needs and aspirations.
Chan pointed out that workers in their 40s and 50s are more vulnerable to retrenchment and long-term unemployment and therefore require greater support to pivot to new job roles.
In addition, this is also a structural change that is here to stay post-pandemic, he said.
Creation of a new SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme
During the pandemic, moves undertaken by the government to help such workers move on to new roles and jobs include the introduction of SGUnited Skills and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways – Company Training programmes.
These programmes will be brought to a close and transit to a new SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme (SCTP), which will be a permanent feature of the government’s training and placement ecosystem.
Courses under the SCTP will also be highly subsidised, with subsidies of up to 90 per cent of course fees, and will support the career-transition needs of Singaporeans with industry-relevant training involving potential employers and employment facilitation into sectors with good hiring opportunities.
The SCTP will begin in April and is a Train-and-Place (TnP) programme that combines key features from SGUnited Skills and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways – Company Training.
Under this new programme, individuals can access industry-oriented, modular training courses that are three to 12 months in duration and will involve elements of industry exposure such as industry attachments and projects.
The SCTP will also offer enhanced pre- and post-training support services. Prior to course enrolment, skills and training advisory will be provided to help trainees select suitable courses that match their strengths and interests.
Employment facilitation services will also be integrated into the programme to enhance trainees’ employment prospects.
Prospective trainees can visit the My SkillsFuture course directory to browse available SCTP courses.
Number of adult learners at Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) is expected to increase
The number of adult learners in IHLs is also expected to increase further, the minister highlighted.
He pointed out that the number of adult learners had increased more than twofold from 165,000 in 2018 to 345,000 in 2020, and this is expected to rise further.
IHLs must therefore grow into institutes of continual learning, and will need to review their programmes as the needs, commitments and prior experiences of adult learners differ from younger learners.
This means improving adult education by using technology to make learning accessible, achievable, bite-sized and based on the foundation of existing skills.
As an example, the minister cited the Singapore University of Social Sciences’ (SUSS) “flexible, modular and applied curriculum”, accompanied by online provisions, as well-catered to the needs of adult learners
The curriculum is taught by a mix of SUSS full-time and associate faculty, many of whom are industry practitioners.
There is also the Singapore Institute of Technology’s (SIT) new competency-based workplace learning pathway, in which skills and competency acquired through prior work experience also count towards the graduating requirements.
“All our institutions also offer stackable pathways for learners to take bite-sized modules that count towards a full qualification. This gives our adult learners more flexibility to juggle work, study and family responsibilities,” he added.
The IHLs, including autonomous universities, will also review their broader slate of Continuing Education and and Training (CET) programme offerings to enhance quality and accessibility for adult learners.
Follow and listen to our podcast here
Top screenshot via MCI YouTube