Thursday 14 January 2016

Two new statutory boards set up to oversee skills and employment

One will coordinate drive for deeper skills, while other will focus on jobs and enterprises
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 13 Jan 2016

Two new statutory boards, tentatively named SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), were announced yesterday to promote the national focus on skills and employment.

SSG will coordinate the drive for deeper skills and comes under the Ministry of Education (MOE), while WSG, under the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), will focus on jobs and enterprises.

The boards are expected to be established by the end of this year as the reorganisation will require changes to existing laws and must be approved in Parliament, the ministries said yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam believes the reorganisation will help the new boards to focus on their key missions.

"SSG will foster a culture of lifelong learning, and help to integrate a whole system of education and training through life," said Mr Tharman, who is Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies.

"WSG will be MOM's agent in developing a strong Singaporean core in each sector of our economy, and help companies to be manpower-lean while remaining competitive."

Statutory boards are autonomous government agencies set up through legislation to perform specific functions. There are more than 50 in Singapore.

Some functions of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), such as the training of adult workers, will be absorbed under the new SSG. The MOM did not give details about the number of staff who will move over.

The SSG will improve the links between vocational, academic and adult training qualification systems so that credentials can be recognised consistently.

It will also take in the Council for Private Education, a statutory board under the MOE which regulates private school operators.

The ministries said this will allow for "a more coordinated approach towards audits and quality assurance for the private education institutions and adult training centres".

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung will lead SkillsFuture initiatives following the restructuring. He was the WDA's chief executive from 2005 to 2008.

"What WDA has done is laid the foundation for SkillsFuture, which is a broader national priority and the next phase of lifelong learning," he said.

The WSG will aim to match manpower supply with industry demand, and take on WDA's other operations like employment help and career services.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said the board "will help Singaporeans at all job levels to have better employment outcomes, and companies to better address their manpower needs".

Mr Patrick Tay, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Manpower, said that with economic uncertainties and labour market changes, there is greater impetus to ensure Singaporeans are gainfully employed and as many as possible are working.

Education GPC chairman Denise Phua said the move to bring adult education under the MOE will promote the mindset of lifelong learning.

"The way that education is delivered in the earlier years within the schools has an impact on whether students are interested in learning or will continue to learn after the formal school years," she said.

It has come to our attention that there are websites and social media accounts with names similar to SkillsFuture, and...
Posted by SkillsFuture SG on Monday, January 11, 2016

SkillsFuture under MOE to integrate education, training
More holistic approach with scheme under one ministry, says Ong Ye Kung
By Olivia Ho, The Straits Times, 14 Jan 2016

Bringing all things SkillsFuture under the Ministry of Education (MOE) will change mindsets towards training and lifelong learning, said Acting Education Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.

The new head of SkillsFuture said the change will allow the Government to pursue skills development in a "more holistic and coherent fashion", gradually erasing the lines between learning in school and training during employment.

"Education and lifelong learning will be integrated as one. This will make us look at education differently - that it is no longer just confined to schools and institutes of higher learning, but is a lifelong pursuit of mastery and excellence."

He was speaking at a Ngee Ann Polytechnic event where a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed to enhance student internships and postgraduate diplomas.

Sin Yee at Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) wanted to give up on engineering, but she went on an internship at Energy Market...
Posted by Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The formation of two statutory boards, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG), was announced on Tuesday. SSG will coordinate the drive for deeper skills and is under MOE, while WSG, under the Ministry of Manpower, will focus on jobs and enterprises. SkillsFuture previously straddled the two ministries, and was run by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

Mr Ong said the change will entail getting different qualification systems recognised across the academic and work skills domains, as well as a more holistic auditing and regulation system for both the private education and training sectors.

He said WDA's major achievement in the last decade was to make training "second nature" to workers, where previously they had just gone into the labour market looking for the next job with better pay.

Moving forward, the new boards' first concern is human resource issues and to allay staff concerns, he said, adding that the headcount will remain the same after the change.

He also announced more SkillsFuture initiatives for the power engineering sector, such as enhanced internships and Earn and Learn programmes.

At the event, 17 companies - including Singapore Power, Sembcorp Design and Construction and SBS Transit - signed an MOU with three polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education. Under the MOU, over 800 students will embark on six-month enhanced internships in the sector from March.

Two Earn and Learn diplomas in electrical design and operation and power engineering will be launched by Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic in October and April respectively.

Under the diplomas, polytechnic graduates will be hired by a participating company, where they will receive on-the-job training while furthering their studies. Singaporean fresh graduates will also receive an incentive of $5,000 for signing on.

Dr Ong Pock Keong, chairman of electrical engineering specialist Terasaki, said his firm came on board the Earn and Learn scheme to strengthen its local hiring.

"There is a serious shortage of young electrical engineers, and often our only choice is to employ foreign graduates. We hope that through this programme, we can attract some good local candidates."

For Ngee Ann Polytechnic graduate Boey Sin Yee, who had found engineering too dry, a stint at the Energy Market Authority (EMA) in 2013 inspired her to stay in the field.

"Having a mentor who guided me and showed me how power systems work was very enriching," said the 21-year-old, who went on to rejoin EMA as a technical executive. "I think the enhanced internships will benefit current students."

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