Budget 2021: Closing skills gap a top priority for Singapore

To successfully transform 'our people will need to have the skills and agility to move'

Budget 2021: Closing skills gap a top priority for Singapore

Retraining and redesigning jobs remain Singapore’s top priority in its efforts to “emerge stronger” from the “crisis of a generation”.

During the Budget 2021 speech this week, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that over the next three years the government will pump $24billion into various programs to enable firms to transform and scale, as well as help develop the “skills, creativity and talents” of employees.

Specifically, an additional $5.4billion will be invested into the existing SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. While most of it will go into supporting the wages of new hires, bulk of it will go into training opportunities.

This in line with Singapore’s long-term strategy to bolster companies’ digital transformation efforts, as well to close the existing skills gap, which has widened due to the pandemic.

“Looking ahead, as companies and industries transform, and new growth areas emerge, our people will need to have the skills and agility to move,” Heng said. “To emerge stronger, our people will need new knowledge and skills.”

To support leaders’ efforts to help develop workforces, HRD will be holding an exclusive one-day Learning & Development Summit specifically designed and developed for senior L&D and HR professionals. The inaugural summit will focus on the future of L&D in our new world of work.

READ MORE: Budget 2021: Singapore's plan for 'emerging stronger'

Enhanced training programs

As for the Singapore government’s efforts to encourage leaders to enable a strong learning culture, they’re extending financial support for the training of workers:

  • SGUnited Mid-career Pathways Program

Company attachment: Extended until March 31, 2022, with maximum training allowance increased to up to $3,800 a month for mature trainees, and up to $1,600 for non-mature employees. Training duration, however, will be reduced from nine to six months from April 1st.

Company training: Also extended until March 31, 2022, a reviewed range of courses will be offered to eligible individuals.

  • SGUnited Skills

This has been extended similar to the mid-career program, with courses made more compact from April 2021 onwards.

The need to upskill the workforce has become especially apparent with the mass digitalisation of workplaces amidst the crisis. DPM Heng cited the example of how everyone has been forced to work from home and adopt new ways of collaborating with each other.

He noted, however that the “fundamental changes” taking place in the world of work were only accelerated by the pandemic, and not new by means. Companies thus need to ensure that employees remain relevant as the landscape transforms, regardless of the industry they’re in.

“A digital, innovation-driven economy means that businesses will need highly skilled workers and deep talent,” he said. “Singaporeans will need to have both broader and deeper skills and creativity.”

To find out more about the L&D Asia Summit, click here.

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