TL;DR – And that’s a good thing, right?
There’s a Chinese saying that goes something like this: if we want to prepare for the next ten years, we should plant trees, and if we want to prepare for the next 100 years, we should cultivate people.
From the recent Committee of Supply (COS) speeches by MOE and MOM, it seems like the government is such a commitment based on the announcements by both MOE and MOM to existing schemes that educate and train people for an economy that will be marked with more disruptions.
1. More schools to offer Applied Learning Programmes (ALPs)
ALPs are programmes designed by schools to help students apply their learning to the real world. Currently, all secondary schools and more than 80 of 191 primary schools have an ALP. Speaking during MOE’s COS debate, Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng announced that by 2023, all primary schools will have an ALP. In addition to that, MOE will also support schools that already have ALPs to further enhance and strengthen their capabilities and programmes. Ng said:
“This is an investment worth making to nurture innovation and creativity. And importantly, prepare our children for the future.”
These ALPs cater to a wide range of interests: Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), languages, humanities, business, entrepreneurship, aesthetics, inter-disciplinary fields.
More importantly, Minister Ng emphasised, that there are no tests or exams. Students are encouraged to learn through experimentation, where it is alright to try, fail, learn from it, and try again. In this way, the ALPs encourage exploration, ideation and creativity.
2. Work Trial to become Career Trial
Second Manpower Minister Josephine Teo, speaking during MOM’s COS debate, announced that the Work Trial programme, where those looking to try out more jobs and assess new careers get support, will be expanded into the Career Trial programme.
Under the Work Trial programme, jobseekers can gain experience through a short-term work trial and be offered employment to receive incentives. During the trial period, participants can receive an allowance of up to $1,200 a month.
With the expansion of the programme into the Career Trial programme, the allowance that participants can receive has been doubled to $2,400 a month.
In addition, to encourage companies to give these jobseekers a chance, the maximum salary support for employers who hire those who have undergone Career Trial will also increase from S$3,600 to S$5,400 per hire over a six-month period.
3. Enhancement of Place and Train Programmes
Place and Train (PnT) programmes provide training and salary support to help rank-and-file workers reskill to take on new jobs in different sectors. To provide greater support for rank-and-file workers, Workforce Singapore (WSG) will provide more salary support for employers who hire and reskill SCs that have been unemployed for six months or more.
The salary support will be increased from up to 70% of monthly salary, pay-out capped at $2,000 per month to up to 90% of monthly salary, pay-out capped at $3,000 per month.
4. More Professional Conversion Programmes (PCP)
WSG will also enhance the Attach and Train (AnT) programme by introducing three new Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) by the second quarter of this year. The new programmes are artificial intelligence programmers, robotics engineers and food production specialists. Teo pointed out that these are areas where manpower demand is expected to increase.
Not only that, the PCP model will evolve to work with companies ahead of time and not wait for workers to be retrenched. She said:
“The key is to engage the companies early, before they have firmed up their plans. By doing so, it is more likely that their existing employees can be a part of the company’s future, instead of being just part of the past.”
An example is where WSG can introduce PCPs in consumer banking where existing staff are re-trained and re-deployed. So, while bank transforms its frontline services, hundreds of bank tellers and cashiers are adapting to do digital marketing, data analysis and product development. In so doing, these staff can avoid painful retrenchment, and at the same time help their employers meet their new manpower needs.