OK, near the top. Still, don’t anyhow diss the education system, S’poreans and the PAP administration.
We are up there with the Nordics:
And u wouldn’t know this from reading TRE, TOC, TMG, Inderjit Singh, and cybernuts like Tan Jee Say and Philip Ang,
There is much talk about lifelong learning, though few countries are doing much about it. The Nordics fall into this less populated camp. But it is Singapore that can lay claim to the most joined-up approach with its SkillsFuture initiative. Employers in the city-state are asked to spell out the changes, industry by industry, that they expect to happen over the next three to five years, and to identify the skills they will need. Their answers are used to create “industry transformation maps” designed to guide individuals on where to head.
Since January 2016 every Singaporean above the age of 25 has been given a S$500 ($345) credit that can be freely used to pay for any training courses provided by 500 approved providers, including universities and MOOCs. Generous subsidies, of up to 90% for Singaporeans aged 40 and over, are available on top of this credit. The programme currently has a budget of S$600m a year, which is due to rise to S$1 billion within three years. According to Ng Cher Pong, SkillsFuture’s chief executive, the returns on that spending matter less than changing the mindset around continuous reskilling.
Some programmes cater to the needs of those who lack basic skills. Tripartite agreements between unions, employers and government lay out career and skills ladders for those who are trapped in low-wage occupations. Professional-conversion programmes offer subsidised training to people switching to new careers in areas such as health care.
Given Singapore’s size and political system, this approach is not easily replicated in many other countries, but lessons can still be drawn. It makes sense for employers, particularly smaller ones, to club together to signal their skills needs to the workforce at large. Individual learning accounts have a somewhat chequered history—fraudulent training providers helped scupper a British experiment in the early 2000s—but if well designed, they can offer workers educational opportunities without being overly prescriptive.