The Singapore government has always been proactive in preparing the working population for the global challenge. Turn back time to the period post-Sars where Singapore and greater Asia experienced a recession. Back then, the Singapore government decided to form Workforce Development Agency (WDA), now called Workforce Singapore (WSG), in a bid to retrain the workers and move them up the value chain. Through a combination of sound financial policy and industry collaboration, the working adults generally came through the recession unscathed.
Returning to the current times, it is not exactly a recession period as financial markets experienced the longest bull run in history. However, Singapore workers are still getting retrenched or having difficulty finding jobs with same scope as before. This is all down to one word, Technology. Cloud computing, Fibre broadband, 5G network, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Sharing Economy and everything within the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Model. You name it and there will be a disruptive model or technology that has reshaped the traditional industries we know. There have been no shortage of articles and research that all point towards disappearing jobs in the next 10 years.
So how do the Singapore government go about preparing for this seismic change in the economy ahead. Training, training and more training. Be it ground up or top down, you can find government supported schemes the workers can tap on to retool themselves within their industry and even across industries. SkillsFuture is one of the most important programs to have come out of this national initiative.
The 4 key objectives of SkillsFuture include:
1. Help individuals to make well-informed choices in education, training and careers
2. Develop an integrated, high-quality system of education and training that responds to constantly evolving industry needs
3. Promote employer recognition and career development based on skills and mastery
4. Foster a culture that supports and celebrates lifelong learning
The government is working hard to seed the idea to every working adult that there is no resting on the laurels and learning is a continuous lifelong activity. $1 billion dollars a year will be set aside to fund a series of schemes under SkillsFuture. The most popular of which is the SkillsFuture credit where every Singaporean above 25 years old will have $500 credit they can use to pay for courses to upgrade themselves. Workers have the freedom to choose courses in digital marketing even if they are in a manufacturing role, as long as they are willing to learn. They can find the courses in the SkillsFuture course directory and contact the training provider to enroll directly.
Such is the extent the local government has gone to ensure Singapore has a competitive workforce. The program is still in the early stage and from the look of it, it needs to be a permanent one as job disruption driven by technology is here to stay. Whether the Singapore employee is resilient, we can only know when the next recession hits, meanwhile, we just have to commend the effort.