One ofthe emerging issues in the CET landscape is the Changing Face of the Workforce.Besidesfacing external factors like challenging economic conditions, risingcompetition, and disruption from technological advances, Singapore also facesland and manpower constraints domestically.
With increasing life expectancy andlow fertility rates, our citizen population continues to age. There are morecitizens in the older age groups today as the ‘post-war baby boomers’ entertheir silver years. As more Singaporeans retire and fewer young Singaporeansenter the workforce, our citizen workforce will start to shrink from 2020onwards. Foreignershelps to balance the shrinking and ageing of our workforce. Foreign workerstake on the lower wage jobs in the sector which face difficulties hiringSingaporeans (e.g. construction workers). These jobs complement Singaporeans’capabilities, and support higher wage jobs.
Funding and accessibility to WSQfor foreign workers need to take into consideration each sector’s manpowerneeds, the skill sets of our local workforce to fill those jobs and the typesof foreign workers needed to complement. However, by having a skilled foreignworker who can do a better job than 2 to 3 foreigner workers may help to reducethe number of foreign workers. Through job redesign programme, WSQ canimplement age-friendly workplaces to benefit older workers and help improveproductivity and growth for companies, thus relying less on foreign workers.Singaporeansare becoming better educated, More Singaporeans have been upgrading themselvesvia post diploma qualifications offered by the polytechnics or vocationalpathways in the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) system. As Singaporeansbecome better educated, there is a need to create more PMEs jobs to meet theaspirations of Singaporeans. WSQ needs to put in place training programmes forboth non-PME and PME Singaporean so that they can upgrade and upskill to takeon higher skilled and higher-paying jobs through:· partnershipwith established foreign universities to fill PMEs’ demand for qualifications(e.
g. between Singapore University of Technology and Design and the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology; between the National University of Singapore and Yale).· helpinglocal educational institutions to align the curriculum with industry needs thatbridge the world of school and work.· helpingworkers to stay relevant with new skillsets in the emerging industries asexisting skills may become obsolete. This helps to build a strong and skilledSingaporean core in the workforce. · Identifyingskill gaps and propose appropriate training to equip locals with the requiredskills to meet the industry needsThe new IndustryTransformation Maps (ITMS) developed for 23 industries under 6 clusters –Manufacturing, Built Environment, Trade & Connectivity, Essential DomesticServices, Modern Services and Lifestyle – which will help to create new andbetter jobs are supported by 4 pillars. These four pillars are Productivity, Jobs & Skills, Innovation andTrade and Internationalisation.
WSQ framework can help to equip the residentworkforce with deep skills to support the shift to greater value creation andthereby raise the productivity.Another issue is the Keyfindings from the Survey of Adult Skills.In 2013, OECD published thesurvey findings for Programme for the International Assessment of AdultCompetencies (PIAAC) study. The study focused on skills – literacy, numeracyand problem solving.Some of the key findings were:· Younger adults in Singapore – aged 16 to 34 -performed well in terms of problem solving in technology-rich environments,numeracy and literacy skills compared to most OECD countries. But older adultsin Singapore – or those aged between 55 and 65 – fared worse, and attained someof the lowest scores in literacy and numeracy among all participatingeconomies.
· the gap between the most and least proficientadults is wide in Singapore.· Positive social and economic outcomes for thehighly literate adults· More education does not necessarily translateinto better skills· Much of learning takes place outside formaleducation· Develop links between the world of learning andthe world of work· Provide training for workers and ensure thatthe training is relevantThe disparity in scoresbetween the younger and older adults reflected the improvement in the qualityof the education and training systems here over the past decades. The challengefor Singapore is to do more for people in the older generations – to make surethat people have opportunities throughout their lives to improve their skills,to have employers valuing skills and not just formal degrees and credentials.
With its easy accessibility and being an open access training system, WSQ helpsthose who require flexible, work-based access training system to upgrade their skills and knowledge. It isalso important that the training system has different levels; the principle ofprogression of this WSQ provides training at various levels specifically atoperations, supervisory or managerial levels allowing all level of employees toupgrade their skills for career progression. WSQ is based on industryagreed national skills standards, and courses only cover skills training whichis determined by employers to be relevant to prevailing occupations in theindustry – WSQ Principle of Relevance.This helps to address the issue of the weak link between an adult’squalification and his skills.WSQ training is qualityassured by the SkillsFutureSingapore – WSQ Principle of Authority.
It is delivered to suit adult workers -modular, flexible, not necessarily classroom based and recognises past skillsand experience that workers already acquired – Accessibility.High-quality career guidanceservices, complemented with up-to-date information about labour-marketprospects, can help young people make sound career choices. WSQ can makeinformation about adult education opportunities easy to find and understand,and recognise and certify skills, which encourages adult learners to keeplearning. WSQ made skills everybody’s business, with governments, employers andindividuals all engaged.