NETF will help workers re-skill, upgrade for new challenges
Armed with $100 million, NTUC fund will help workers re-skill and grab new opportunities with 'speed-to-market' training courses
Singapore workers will soon benefit from more speed-to-market training courses, after a boost to the NTUC-Education and Training Fund (NETF) .
At the May Day Rally Appreciation Lunch yesterday, labour chief Chan Chun Sing announced that the National Trades Union Congress has raised $25 million for the NETF.
For every dollar raised, and with the Government granting three dollars, the labour movement will have a total of $100 million in the fund, which is aimed at helping workers in skills upgrading and re-skilling to overcome new challenges and grab new opportunities.
Investment income from the NETF will be used to "catalyse" new models of adult learning.
In his May Day speech yesterday, Mr Chan said the current speed-to-market training is too "slow" for the new economy.
He said it currently takes about a year to launch a new course because it takes time to figure out market demand, curate the course curriculum and mobilise workers for training.
Mr Chan added: "We have done very well in our basic education system... and our people graduate with very good foundations, but we need to couple that with good effort in the continuing education front."
The labour movement is looking into "just-in-time" modules that will benefit workers with busy schedules, said Mr Chan, adding that new modules could be launched every few days.
He provided the example of such training for a safety officer: If an incident occurs within 24 to 48 hours, the information will be curated and transmitted through an app.
We have done very well in our basic education system... and our people graduate with very good foundations, but we need to couple that with good effort in the continuing education front.Labour chief Chan Chun Sing
The officer can choose to find out about the latest development on the spot, complete a module or collect points for future learning.
The NETF, which eventually aims to raise $200 million, will also use its investment income on course fees subsidies.
Union members can tap on more than 3,200 training courses to enjoy the subsidy, capped at a maximum of $250 a year.
NTUC will also continue its partnership with the 14 local institutes of higher learning (IHLs).
Since May last year, it partnered Nanyang Technological University and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) to offer over 100 bite-sized, modular courses that can be taken at the learner's own pace and allow working professionals to update their knowledge and acquire relevant skills without the need to pursue a full degree qualification.
Industry leaders stressed the need for such courses.
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, president of SUSS, said: "We have a role to train professionals, managers, executives so that they can transit to other suitable jobs in an expedient manner.
"Learning for many in their jobs will have to be really bite-size and regularly made available to them."
Mr Gilbert Tan, chief executive officer of e2i, said: "As technologies accelerate and job markets fluctuate, our IHLs are important partners to identify skills gaps and develop new ways of training.
"To encourage everyone to continuously learn new skills to stay relevant from school to post-retirement, the future of learning needs to be speed-to-market and bite-sized, and from everywhere."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his May Day speech yesterday, stressed the importance of supporting workers to grow in their jobs by taking upgrading seriously.
Quoting the example of Ms Adelene Teck, 43, an occupational therapist of 20 years who went back to school last year at the Singapore Institute of Technology, Mr Lee said: "I am very happy to tell you that Adelene is about to finish her year-long programme, and now looking forward to going back to work to apply her skills.
"That is what we all need to do. We are never too old to learn."