To give a fillip to the adult vocational courses in the emerging areas in tertiary institutions, ranging from Universities to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), Singapore has launched the SkillsFuture Series programme.
According to this programme, about SGD70 million worth of expenses will be used over a span of three years to train 50,000 Singaporeans annually by 2020 in key evolving sectors such as data analytics and cyber security through short term programmes.
The initiative is being undertaken to allow the universities to be more engaged in addressing the economic threats encountered by Singapore in the present digital era. The short-term programmes can help employees in determining if they have disposition for new responsibilities in a changing industry, or to move over to a different enterprise that is facing a manpower shortage.
To make the course attractive for adults, adjustments can be made, allowing some of the new SkillsFuture Series courses to be accumulated into academic credits that allow one to get a master’s degree after several courses. This can serve as a selling point for more professionals to settle for training in sectors that are lacking labour pool.
With plans made to increase the expenditure on vocational training, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung shared that a reassessment on ministry funding for “purely academic” master’s courses in universities could be carried out.
This could serve as a driving force for universities to enhance their postgraduate programmes so that they are more relevant to job market demands.
However, it is still critical to note that academic programmes pass on intangible skill sets such as critical thinking that are very much valued by employers across all sectors. Therefore, it should not be undermined at the expense of vocational training.