SkillsFuture transforming Singapore's preparations for the future
SkillsFuture transforming how we prepare for future by telling people that they need more than academic qualifications: Ong Ye Kung
Singaporeans will need both knowledge and skills in order to thrive.
And this thinking underpins the fundamental changes on the education landscape in recent years - the upskilling of adults, school admissions based on aptitude and even the easing of emphasis on exams.
The new direction is meant to prevent "computers and robots replacing Singaporeans" in the future, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday.
Saying that he was connecting the dots, Mr Ong spelt out how the SkillsFuture movement - launched in 2015 - spanned across schools, higher education and the adult learning sector and was transforming preparations for the future.
"The SkillsFuture movement is not just about promoting vocational or technical work," he said at the triennial Singapore International Technical and Vocational Education and Training Conference yesterday.
It was instead to tell Singaporeans that they had to go beyond academic qualifications and add skills to their repertoire.
That is because the lines be-ween cognition and skills had blurred, he said.
"It is not a traditional two-track system, with an academic path and a vocational path, but a multi-path system," said Mr Ong.
This change in mindset meant that institutes of higher learning have become lifelong resources, educating the young, while helping adults upgrade their skills.
As of now, some 370,000 of the 2.6 million eligible Singaporeans have used their SkillsFuture credits to attend training courses.
From 2015 to last year, the total training hours for adult learners increased by 55 per cent from 26.5 million to 41 million.
The training participation rate for the resident labour force increased from 35 per cent to 48 per cent in the same time period.
"At the core of the SkillsFuture movement is passion," said Mr Ong. "A strong personal desire to do something really well, a motivation powerful enough to drive someone to learn and hone a craft for life."
This passion must be cultivated from young, he said. That is why a phased reduction in examinations at school had started so that there could be more time for learning.
To prioritise those who were passionate about a subject, polytechnics introduced the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) in 2016 to allow students to gain conditional admission to a course based on their aptitude and talent even before their qualifying final exams.
A record 13,900 EAE applications have been received for the admission year 2019, 13 per cent higher than last year.
"Collectively, all the chan-ges that have been taking place are transforming the way we prepare Singaporeans for the future," Mr Ong said.