PM Lee: SkillsFuture courses help you to be more “productive and employable”

Yesterday (8 Aug), in his National Day Message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Singaporeans that his government is “making good progress” re-skilling and upgrading Singapore’s workforce to be “future ready”.

In particular, he mentioned that SkillFuture has helped many Singaporeans. “SkillsFuture is building up the skills of tens of thousands of Singaporeans, helping them be more productive and employable, and preparing them for the new jobs being created,” he said.

“By continuing to invest heavily in people, we enable each one of us to take advantage of new opportunities at every stage of life.”

What is Skillsfuture?

According to its website, Skillsfuture is a national movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to “develop their fullest potential throughout life”.

It said that through this movement, the skills, passion and contributions of every individual will drive Singapore’s next phase of development towards an advanced economy and inclusive society.

“No matter where you are in life – schooling years, early career, mid-career or silver years – you will find a variety of resources to help you attain mastery of skills,” the website said.

“Skills mastery is more than having the right paper qualifications and being good at what you do currently; it is a mindset of continually striving towards greater excellence through knowledge, application and experience.”

It added, “You can own a better future with skills mastery and lifelong learning. Your skills. Your asset. Your future.”

As part of the movement to encourage Singaporeans attain mastery of skills, all Singaporeans aged 25 and above would receive a SkillsFuture Credit of $500 to enable them to take ownership of their skills development.

Reporter recounts some of the Skillsfuture courses he attended

Last August, Rice Media sent a reporter to cover some of the courses offered under the Skillsfuture programme.

He attended a few of them. The first course he attended was breadmaking, a $126 1-day course conducted by a culinary school located in Bukit Merah. In the course, the reporter learned to make 3 types of bread: a Rye Loaf, Madeleines, and Banana bread. There were just two students in the course.

From attending the course, the reporter said he learned to “stop kneading when the dough formed a translucent gluten windowpane when stretched between your fingers”. He even learned the importance of gradually adding ingredients into the mixer.

“However, I can’t help but feel a tad deflated because all of the recipes require specialised equipment that only true tai-tais can afford. You can’t make any of the items unless you have a proper mixer, a piping bag, some baking sheets, and ideally, a proofing oven for the yeast to work its magic,” he commented.

The next course he attended was to learn to be a florist. It cost $110 and was held in the function room of a community club. There were 10 or so students, all learning to “transform the leaves, flowers, and leftover stems into a floral arrangement worthy of display”.

The reporter said, “After a long day at your white collar job staring into your laptop’s flickering abyss, there is nothing more therapeutic than a mundane task requiring immense concentration lest you prune off a finger. After a while, I found myself strangely absorbed in the process of cutting, measuring, and fiddling about…”

“The downside is that my family didn’t care for the designs. I thought it was an admirable job, but I woke up the next day to find my parents had ripped apart my arrangements and put them in separate vases,” he recalled.

Courses listed but unavailable

The reporter also revealed that while there is certainly no shortage of courses on SkillFuture’s website, signing up for a Skillsfuture class can be challenging. This is because many of the available courses are ‘unavailable’ due to a lack of participants.

He noted that it’s not uncommon to face postponements, cancellations, delays, and the like after registering for a course.

“A Homebrewing (Mead) course that I was keen on got cancelled due to students’ conflicting schedules, and a ‘Creative Egg Cookery’ class vanished upon further enquiry via phone,” he revealed.

“SkillsHQ academy, a school that focuses on drone pilot certification, hung up on me, seemingly unaware of their own advertisement for a course in Beginner Mixology.”

And on the ITE college’s programme, no less than 40% of its short courses were cancelled.

In any case, it’s not know how a person having attended a $126 breadmaking course and $110 floral arrangement course would help he or she master the necessary skills and therefore, “own a better future” with such skills mastery, as touted by the Skillsfuture website.

More importantly, how is SkillsFuture helping Singaporeans to be “more productive and employable, and preparing them for the new jobs being created”, like what PM Lee told us?