TL;DR – For that to happen, every job needs to become a better job.
Hands up if you’ve heard of SkillsFuture! Good good. Some of you have heard of it. Those who know about SkillsFuture probably know about the $500 the government is giving to all Singaporeans above the age of 25 to learn whatever you want to learn. But did you know that SkillsFuture is more than just that $500 SkillsFuture Credit?
The $500 is just a means to an end.
The goals of SkillsFuture is to help Singaporeans find what they are passionate about, understand that they have to spend time mastering what they are passionate about, and how to go about mastering what they are passionate about.
That was the point that Minister Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), made at a recent LM Conversations, a dialogue session between ministers and union leaders.
Minister Ong had said at the LM Conversations organised by NTUC,
“This is something that I’ve wanted to do since more than 10 years ago, to mobilise our education resources to do training for workers. Why? Because I think we have built up a very strong pillar of employers training your workers. This process started since 1970s, the SDF system, and that we have really built up, and it’s a key strength of our system.
Over the 10, 12 years, we have also built up a very strong industry base of private sector training for workers, so the second pillar is very strong.
And I’ve always felt that the system is not complete without all three pillars. It’s just like tripartism, you need all three pillars working. And the third pillar is our universities, polytechnics and ITEs getting into the act of also training workers.”
A whole suite of policies and programmes are put in place and still being developed to achieve those goals of SkillsFuture. For instance, as part of the entire SkillsFuture effort, the government is also getting the Institutes of Higher Learning (i.e. the polytechnics and the universities) to offer courses for working adults. This will complement the continuing education and training provided by companies and private training agencies.
But with so much information out there, it can get quite confusing.
That’s why the government recently launched the SkillsFuture Advice for Individuals initiative. It aims to help Singaporeans understand how they can find out and use the various SkillsFuture initiatives to deepen existing skills and develop new ones. Minister Ong urged union leaders to help encourage their members to sign up for SkillsFuture Advice, as well as to keep learning.
But deepen or pick up skills for what?
Spend time, spend money, at the end, got use meh? At the end of the day, SkillsFuture will only be a success if it helps every Singaporean worker a better worker. That said, even if we become better workers, it doesn’t mean that we will get better pay.
For that to happen, every job needs to become a better job.
In other words, Singaporeans will enjoy the benefits of deepening existing skills or learning new skills only if jobs are redesigned. And jobs will only be redesigned if companies are willing to invest the time and effort to do so. That’s something that the government is actively working on – to convince and help companies to redesign every job into a better job.
That was the point made by Minister Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, at the same LM Conversations last month where Minister Ong spoke about SkillsFuture.
Minister Lim pointed out that the aim of the Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs) is a plan to help companies redesign every job into a better job.
Minister Lim added that as SkillsFuture help every Singaporean worker become a better Singaporean worker, and as companies work with the government to make every job a better job, MOM will play its part to match every better worker with every better job.
The man of quips and quotable quotes said this at the LM Conversations last Wednesday,
“ITM is to make every job a better job; SkillsFuture is to make every worker a better worker.”
That sounds like a good plan on paper. But it won’t be easy to achieve. It will take dedicated efforts from companies, government, and unions (also known as tripartite partners), working closely together, to turn that plan into action, and make the vision of better jobs with better pay for all Singaporean workers a reality.