Fewer people took part in SkillsFuture training programmes in 2023, new figures show

Fewer people took part in SkillsFuture training programmes in 2023, new figures show
Figures from SSG showed that about 520,000 people participated in SSG-supported training programmes in 2023, down from 560,000 in 2022.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

SINGAPORE – Fewer people took part in training programmes supported by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) in 2023, compared with a year ago.

Figures from SSG showed that about 520,000 people participated in SSG-supported training programmes in 2023, down from 560,000 in 2022.

At the same time, 2023 saw more employers sponsoring their workers for training – about 23,000 enterprises sent 228,000 workers for such training, up from 20,000 enterprises and 168,000 workers in 2022, said the agency in its yearly update on March 22.

Of the overall number of people who tapped SSG courses, around 200,000 were mid-career workers, up by 28 per cent from 2022.

Mr Tan Kok Yam, chief executive of SSG, said that the fall in the number of people participating in SSG-supported programmes is due to the tighter labour market, where employers tend to hire individuals before training them, as well as less pressure to upskill as compared with the Covid-19 period.

But he added that the increase in enterprises sending its workers for training programmes is encouraging, with 97 per cent of them being small and medium-sized enterprises.

“It shows an increasingly collective commitment to lifelong learning, across the ecosystem of employers, workers and training providers,” Mr Tan said.

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As more support for mid-career workers kicks in, including the SkillsFuture Level-Up programme announced during Budget 2024, the participation numbers of workers aged 40 and above are expected to increase, said Mr Tan.

He added: “We see that there is a demand, and a need by mid-career workers, and it shows that more of them are taking upskilling seriously.”

The number of SkillsFuture career transition programme courses increased to 180 in 2023, up from 82 in 2022, with about 3,700 individuals participating in these courses, said SSG.

As announced in Budget 2024, mid-career workers will receive $4,000 top-up of SkillsFuture credits in May, as well as subsidies to pursue another full-time diploma at polytechnics, the Institute of Technical Education and arts institutions from the academic year 2025.

Those aged 40 and above will also be given a monthly training allowance when they enrol in selected full-time courses from 2025, to partially offset income loss from taking time off work.

Of the overall 520,000 individuals who participated in SSG-supported training programmes in 2023, 192,000 of them used their SkillsFuture Credit (SFC).

The majority – 95 per cent – of them used their credits for courses specific to industry sectors, while the remaining used them for more general courses, like baking and sewing, by the People’s Association or the National Silver Academy.

Courses related to skills in the digital, food, and beverage and safety sectors had the highest participation rate among Singaporeans who used their SFC. These were among the more than 5,000 courses in 2023, an increase from 2,800 courses in 2022.

Mr Tan said that SSG are hoping to have more courses that provide skills in emerging industries in the digital, green, and care economies, among the 7,000 courses to be announced in April 2024 for Singaporeans aged 40 and above.

Some 98 per cent of 48,000 surveyed who took up SSG-supported programmes said that they were able to perform better at work after participating in these initiatives.

Mr Tan said: “We need to continue to work together to give Singaporeans the training, that is of high quality, of high relevance, and of high impact to their career and their ability to contribute as an employee.”

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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