While Singapore is no stranger to ambitious educational initiatives, this latest project differs in a number of ways from previous innovations.
Singapore’s education system has long been considered among the world’s best; topping the OECD’s 2015 global education rankings, coming third in the 2012 PISA results, and leading Asia in the QS World University Rankings.
However, SkillsFuture is different from the country’s earlier educational initiatives, which primarily focused on raising the academic standards of school leavers and university students. Instead, it aims to provide Singaporeans aged 25 and over with the incentive, and economic support, to enroll on training courses to develop new skills.
Since the beginning of January, eligible Singaporeans have begun receiving SkillsFuture Credits, worth S$500 (US$378), to enroll on Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and Ministry of Education (MoE) certified courses.
Currently there are 10,000 certified courses which accept the SkillsFuture Credit. These certified courses cover a diverse range of skills, including robotics and mechanics, pastry and bakery, computer coding, body massage and dance appreciation. The WDA is working with government agencies and training providers to further expand the range of approved courses over the coming months.
The SkillsFuture initiative appears to have sparked a lot of interest among young professionals in Singapore’s competitive workforce who are looking to realise their aspirations and advance their careers. Earlier this month, thousands of Singaporeans attended a two-day SkillsFuture exhibition at Westgate Mall to learn more about enrolling on WDA approved courses.
While this project has the potential to enable Singaporeans to develop their professional potential, it could also benefit Singapore on a national level, supporting the country’s long-term strategy to become an advanced economy with advanced technological infrastructure, higher standards of living and a highly developed economy.
Speaking on the importance of the SkillsFuture initiative for the city-state’s long term development, WDA chief executive Ng Cher Pongexplained, “SkillsFuture Credit is certainly an integral part of our transformation to become an advanced economy and an inclusive society… One that focuses really on skills mastery rather than academic qualifications. And one that focuses on lifelong learning… That’s where all these different initiatives come in because the intent is that we want to make sure that we build this eco-system, this high-skills, high-productivity, high-wages eco-system.”
As the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) opens and regional governments grapple to understand the implications, challenges and opportunities which lie ahead, Singapore appears intent to maintain its position as the region’s educational and economic powerhouse by implementing an ambitious policy with huge potential.