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285,000 Singaporeans have used SkillsFuture Credit, with more doing so in 2017

[SINGAPORE] A total of 160,000 Singaporeans started using their SkillsFuture Credit last year, bringing the total number of users to 285,000 since the scheme was launched in 2016.

This was up from the 126,000 who used these credits in the first year.

From 2016, the funding scheme provides all Singaporeans aged 25 and above with $500 to use on training courses.

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) chief executive Ng Cher Pong said on Thursday that infocomm technology continues to be a popular area of training, and the agency is working on improving its "training exchange" course directory and payment system to make the scheme more user-friendly.

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He said the take-up of various SkillsFuture Programmes "is a good positive sign that Singaporeans are heeding the call, they're taking ownership of charting their own learning and charting their own career paths".

When asked about the high-profile scams that have plagued the scheme where millions of dollars in false claims were made, Mr Ng said that major internal changes are being made, and more updates on the data analytics fraud detection system being installed will be provided later on. He noted, however, that changes in internal processes should not make it harder for people to upgrade their skills."We should not make Singaporeans suffer because of a few black sheep," he said at a media briefing at the SSG office in One Marina Boulevard.

Many bosses do recognise the need to upskill and reskill their workers as they transform their businesses, but there is still some resistance from employers, especially smaller ones, he added.

They may not know what training opportunities are available or may not have the human resources capabilities to draw up and implement training plans for workers.

This is why the agency has set up an enterprise engagement office last month (Jan to reach out to more employers, he said. It will work with other government agencies and trade associations and chambers.

To support companies as they transform and help Singaporean workers stay competitive, a new roadmap was also launched on Thursday to raise the quality of the training and adult education (TAE) sector.

The Education (TAE) industry transformation map focuses on driving innovation, professionalising jobs and raising productivity in the sector, which employs about 20,000 private training providers. It is one half of the education industry transformation map - the other half is for the early childhood sector.

Jobs in the TAE sector include business development, which involves working with companies to identify training needs and solutions; administrators, whose jobs are impacted by technology changes; and trainers and curriculum developers, who need to embrace more innovative teaching methods.

Mr Ng said that the roadmap, SSG wants to encourage training providers to make learning more relevant and accessible to workers, and to help them improve their courses through better feedback gathering from users.

The agency is also developing a skills framework for the sector to provide key information on career pathways, skills required and training courses available, which is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

THE STRAITS TIMES

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