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The Straits Times

Set National And Personal Goals For Lifelong Learning

“Singapore also wants to develop a new social culture, where people gain satisfaction from learning at every stage of life … as well as from mastering the skill and being part of a community of learners” (SUSS and IAL Team Up to Advance Adult Education, Adrian Lim).

Implicit in the focus on adult and lifelong learning is the desire to raise labour productivity levels in Singapore, though in this pursuit of greater economic competitiveness and a stronger meritocracy of skills – “where people gain satisfaction from learning at every stage of life … as well as from mastering the skill and being part of a community of learners” (ST, Apr. 26) – shifting socio-cultural mindsets to be more proactive and to participate is as important as increasing the number of educational opportunities. In setting broader goals, in this vein, it would be productive for the government to consider the eagerness of Singaporeans, their willingness and ability to balance work, family, and personal commitments with training and development, and their future trajectories.

Conformity to the predominant view that individuals are necessarily wedded to particular jobs, companies, or industries across their lifetimes is changing, though children – tempted to follow in the footsteps of their parents – should: First, develop a long-term view of their careers and understand that they are likely to make multiple switches; second, acknowledge that the knowledge and skills gained in their 20s or 30s may no longer be relevant later in life; and third, remain open to exploration throughout their lives. Respectively and along this tangent, employers should manage their stigma against (prospective) employees who switch, assume some responsibility for the meaningful training and development of their employees, and ultimately and constantly help them evaluate their priorities.

Some of these proposals – especially for the employers – appear idealistic, though they bring attention to personal responsibility, the role of employers, and how the government and in particular the education sector can bridge these endeavours. Initiatives under the SkillsFuture umbrella reflect the government’s vision, yet the aforementioned goals would reflect whether the message has been communicated effectively. How many Singaporean workers have taken up the programmes and services? To what extent have they benefited from these programmes? And conversely what are the reasons for non-participation, even among those who might gain the most? After all, setting targets against these benchmarks seem most productive for what the country wishes to achieve.

A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.


One thought on “Set National And Personal Goals For Lifelong Learning

  1. The Singapore Skillsfuture program as one piece of a needed toolkit dealing with the issue of human obsolescence which the Singapore government is falsely touting as a panacea.

    Some people won’t take up lifetime learning, some people aren’t suited to being retrained from factory worker to bio statistician to digital marketing manager to “future job X that can’t be performed better and cheaper by ever improving AI.”

    This is not just Singapore’s issue, it’s a world issue, where we are looking at future where growing percentages of people have no value to add to the economy besides being consumers. Rather than look that square in the face, and plan for it, which is what Singapore is usually uniquely good at… it’s selling a fairy tale. Singaporeans should feel bad that senior citizens are the ones busing tables at hawker centers in the second wealthiest country in the world. The rhetoric of personal responsibility shifts the narrative so that it’s their fault for not having kids, for not putting away enough in their CPF, for not taking advantage of the Skillsfuture NUS courses which would make them a marketable 72 year old Fintech analyst.

    Posted by Matthew | May 7, 2019, 12:01 pm

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