Continuing Education and Training to improve the lives of low-income Singaporeans – SPS Hawazi Daipi

CET can help improve the lives of low-income
Singaporeans. The need to continually upgrade our skills and knowledge remains critical
when one completes education and enters the workforce. This is particularly important
for low-wage workers who are often in lower-skilled jobs. The skills and knowledge that they require
to stay relevant in the job market will evolve with external factors such as technological
changes and economic restructuring. They need to be able to adapt to such changes in order
to remain employable. The CET framework aims to achieve this through providing Singaporeans
with a roadmap of training and lifelong learning opportunities. A key cornerstone of the CET
framework is the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) programme recognising
workplace skills and experiences. The WSQ serves as an important alternative pathway
for the some 400,000 working adults, or about 20 percent of our resident labour force, without
formal qualifications. WSQ also sets out a clear career and skill progression pathways
for key industries. There are currently thirty-three industry specific WSQ frameworks, which cover
industries such as retail, F&B and security where many low-wage Singaporeans are employed
in. To date, more than one million workers have been trained under the WSQ system. The
Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) provides generous subsidies of up to 90 percent
of course fees to ensure all workers can undertake training and keep their skills up to date.The
two new national CET campuses will provide training to some 50,000 adults annually, thus
greatly enhancing Singaporeans accessibility to training opportunities. The Devan Nair
Institute in Jurong East, operated by NTUCs Employment and Employability Institute (e2i),
was launched by Prime Minister just earlier this month. The Lifelong Learning Institute
in Paya Lebar will also be operational by this year. While the Government continues to build and
enhance our infrastructure to facilitate accessible lifelong learning, we are aware that some
Singaporean workers, in particular the low-wage workers, may face barriers in taking up training
courses. We therefore want to also facilitate participation in training opportunities to
enhance their employability and productivity. Therefore, we have established schemes such
as the Skills Development Fund (SDF) and Workfare Training Support (WTS). These schemes help
lower the financial barriers to training for both the individual who wants to upgrade himself
as well as the the employer. WTS also provide generous absentee payroll funding to encourage
employers to send their lower-wage workers for training. A more recent initiative is
the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), where clear wage-skill and career progression pathways
enable workers to earn wages that are commensurate with their training and skills, productivity
and responsibilities. We will mandate tripartite-negotiated PWMs in specific sectors that suffer from
prevalent cheap-sourcing coupled with limited bargaining power on the part of the workers.
We have done so for the cleaning sector this year and plan to do the same in the security
sector when the PWM for this sector is ready. We have also begun tripartite discussions
on a PWM for the landscaping sector.

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