26 February 2015
Positive spillover effects expected from SkillsFuture initiatives
Wong Siew Ying

Observers say it could raise income levels and improve living standards for households in the years to come. There will be positive spillovers to other sectors too, eventually helping boost the Singapore economy as a whole.

 
SINGAPORE: The SkillsFuture initiatives announced at this year's Budget are expected to have a positive multiplier effect on the Singapore economy. Observers have said it could raise income levels and improve living standards for households in the years to come.
 
SkillsFuture provides a package of measures aimed at helping Singaporeans learn and upgrade their work skills throughout their lives.
 
The Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) has supported over 50,000 workers for training last year, up 30 per cent from 2013.
 
The rollout of SkillsFuture measures - which include the S$500 credit to some 2 million Singaporeans next year - will likely see higher demand for education services and training.
 
e2i has been working with the industry to identify skills gaps and create new training programmes. Mr Gilbert Tan, CEO of the Employment and Employability Institute, explained: "How do we tie those training programmes into the real jobs, how do we see the skills sets translating to application at the jobs, how those applications at the jobs translate to better value-add for the company, and how the company rewards that through better wages, better career development."
 
Accounting firm PwC said SkillsFuture will allow education service providers to invest with more certainty and most likely attract new entrants into the market. And that could bring benefits of innovation and competition to the education sector.
 
Mr Tristan Hockley, director of PwC South East Asia Consulting, noted: "In other markets, when significant subsidies are announced for skills training, we have seen at times a significant surge in demand for courses.
 
To capitalise on this demand, we have seen significant new entrants in the skills market - some of varying quality which must be watched closely." There will be positive spillovers to other sectors too, and this will eventually help boost the Singapore economy as a whole.
 
Mr Francis Tan, an economist at United Overseas Bank, said: "The upgrade of skills would eventually mean expected higher wages, higher income, that you are going to see in your lifetime. That will also certainly improve labour productivity in all the other segments’
 
“The impact of higher wages will likely lead to increase in future private consumption and accumulation of assets; household net worth may even go up. So it may seem small at the start, but it may take a while because there is always implementation lag."
 
The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises said SkillsFuture will also provide timely help to firms, to better train workers. Said Mr Kurt Wee, president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises:
"One of the easiest ways is to look locally or overseas for more advanced models that they can then tap and bring in the training resource, bring in a trainer, generate training resources like training videos.
 
“Not just one company at a time, you are looking at maybe three to five companies at a time, generating that collective shared goal and looking at certain mini industry clusters and levelling them up. If we can do that sector by sector, industry by industry, I think over time, a period of let's say four to five years, we could have really serious depths of expertise and development in the workforce."
 
The association said a higher skilled workforce will also enable firms to be more competitive in the region.
 
- CNA/ms