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Focus on jobs, lifelong learning

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Two new statutory boards, Workforce S'pore and SkillsFuture S'pore, formed

Against the backdrop of slower growth and greater uncertainty, how do we balance domestic manpower growth constraints with aspirations to do better?

The answer lies in Workforce Singapore (WSG) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), two new statutory boards expected to be formed by the end of this year.

This comes after two Bills were passed in Parliament yesterday - the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (Amendment) Bill and the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency Bill.

SSG, under the Ministry of Education (MOE), will take over some functions currently performed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and absorb the Council for Private Education statutory board.

SSG will foster a culture of lifelong learning, and help to integrate a whole system of education and training through life.

The WDA will be reconstituted into WSG. It will focus on jobs and ensuring enterprises can become manpower-lean while remaining competitive. The new statutory board will remain under the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and will focus on developing a strong Singaporean core in each sector of our economy.

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung told the House yesterday that SkillsFuture applies to everyone, whether they are in a traditional sector or an emerging industry.

He used national swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling, 21, as an example.

Schooling had told Mr Ong on Monday that he decided to focus on his 100m butterfly event at this Olympics, before attempting new events in the next.

Mr Ong said: "This is SkillsFuture. When you focus on one area and are excellent at it, it gives you the foundation to do many other things."

He said workers need to know that versatility comes after excellence in a craft.

He said: "If you just touch the surface of everything, we will not have the versatility. So SkillsFuture is applicable to everybody, whether traditional sectors or new sectors."

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say told Parliament yesterday that SkillsFuture will also be one way to avoid challenges the rest of the world is facing: High youth unemployment, sticky unemployment and declining labour force participation.

"We will need to quicken the transformation of the workforce, to make every worker a better worker. MOE is leading the effort to inculcate lifelong learning, from pre-employment education to professional and continuing education. SSG is the new agency tasked with this," he said.


Within the Government, WSG will partner with economic agencies on industry transformation, and with MOE and SSG on lifelong learning.

But the most important partner, said Mr Lim, will be Singapore workers.

He said: "Every individual will need to play his or her part to adapt and grow in this new environment.

"WSG will do its utmost to empower each person on his or her own lifelong journey of career conversion.

"With a dedicated new agency in WSG and the collective endeavours of all our partners, I am confident we can do more than before to match the aspirations of our people and the needs of our businesses.

"In short, we must make sure that innovation-driven growth of the economy is also inclusive growth for our people."

We will need to quicken the transformation of the workforce, to make every worker a better worker.

- Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say (above)

parliamentUncategorisedMinistry of Manpower