SINGAPORE: Working adults may get more opportunities to pursue a degree as the Ministry of Education (MOE) embarks on a study to increase the “lifetime cohort participation rate”, said Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing on Monday (Mar 7).
Cohort participation rate refers to the percentage of a cohort who are given places in MOE-funded degree programmes.
Singapore currently has a 40 per cent cohort participation rate for fresh school leavers, and an additional 10 per cent allowance for adult learners, said Mr Chan at his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate.
“As we increasingly move towards interspersing working and learning throughout life, we should look beyond the proportion of each cohort that goes to university before starting work. We should focus instead on ensuring that Singaporeans can up-skill continually, according to their needs and aspirations,” he added.
Increasing the lifetime cohort participation rate will give working adults more opportunities to pursue a degree at a “suitable point” in their life and support key growth areas in Singapore’s economy, said Mr Chan.
“MOE together with MTI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) and MOM (Ministry of Manpower) will further study the mix of the increase in places to better cater to the needs of our learners and the economy.”
A new SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme (SCTP) will replace the SGUnited Skills and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways – Company Training programmes, which were introduced during the pandemic to help mid-career workers move to new sectors or job roles.
Describing SCTP as a “permanent feature” of Singapore’s training and placement ecosystem, Mr Chan said courses under the programme will be highly subsidised.
“It will support the career transition needs of Singaporeans with industry-relevant training involving potential employers and employment facilitation into sectors with good hiring opportunities,” said Mr Chan.
More than 22,000 Singaporeans enrolled in the SGUnited Skills and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways – Company Training programmes, said Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang in Parliament on Monday.
Adding that the outcomes have been “encouraging”, Ms Gan said the two programmes will merge into the new SCTP from April.
The SCTP will be delivered by institutes of higher learning and selected private training providers. The programme will have a duration between three months and 12 months, and will be launched in sectors with “good hiring opportunities” such as information and communications technology and advanced manufacturing.
The programme will be subsidised at Skillsfuture Singapore’s prevailing rates, with enhanced funding of up to 90 per cent for Singaporeans aged 40 and above, said Ms Gan.
“On top of this, to ensure that job seekers with greater needs can access SCTP, we will provide additional subsidies to cover up to 95 per cent of course fees for eligible Singapore citizens who are lower-income earners, long-term unemployed or persons with disabilities,” she added.
Beyond these changes, MOE and other ministries are studying how to enhance structural support for Singaporeans in their 40s and 50s who may need significant re-skilling to “provide a second wind to their careers”, said Mr Chan.
“We must take a holistic look at accessibility and the different types of support that adult learners need, to help every Singaporean enhance their career resilience by refreshing their skills throughout life.”