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AI and Data Analytics: hot topics for upgrading worker skillset in Singapore

To promote long-life learning, the Singapore government had launched the SkillsFuture programme, back in 2015. Since then, the programme has served to be a skill booster for Singaporeans who are looking to increase their skillset.

With the growing demand and need for individuals with tech skills, such as AI and data analytics, this programme provides the platform for individuals who have no prior knowledge or skillsets in these areas to gain them.

Minister for Education Mr Ong Ye Kung, together with the Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Mr Chee Hong Tat, was in attendance to observe the SkillsFuture classes that were carried at the NTUC Learning Hub, on Monday, 24 February.

Mr Ong spoke to reporters and shared that the SkillsFuture programme has seen an increase in its participation rate, from about 30 per cent to 50 per cent. This participation rate is expected to continue to rise.

He added that the upgrading of worker skillsets is to be a crucial economic and social strategy for Singapore’s future.

It was announced in the Budget 2020 on February 18 that the government will be topping on the SkillsFuture credit, as part of efforts for supporting workers to learn new skills. All Singaporeans aged 25 and above will receive a one-off S$500 SkillsFuture top-up.

On top of that, Singaporeans between the ages of 40 and 60 in 2020 will also be given an additional $500 SkillsFuture credit this year. Both these top-ups will be made available for use from Oct 1 this year, with the validity expiring on Dec 31, 2025.

This is an effort by the government to enforce the message that all Singaporeans should uptake this programme and be involved in the life-long learning journey.

Mr Ong also pointed out that automation and the use of artificial intelligence have remained as hot trends since 2015 and continue to grow in demand.

He assured that the learning of these tech skills is not to replace us but should rather be supported and strengthened with hard and soft skills.

“This continues to be a very important way for us to stay ahead of the game, raise our competitiveness and for individual Singaporeans to stay relevant and to be inclusive in our economic strategy,” he said.

Moving forward, the SkillsFuture programme is set to be on par with the initiatives by companies. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced in his Budget 2020 speech that with the programme, the government strives to train industries and value chain partners of up to 40 large anchor enterprises.

With anchor enterprises being supported by several small and medium enterprises (SMEs), investing in and working on the skillsets of workers in SMEs will benefit the whole supply chain.

“Essentially (these are) companies that are leaders in their field, that can train not just for themselves, raise the skills level not just for their own employees, but also for the entire industry, for the whole value chain,” said Mr Ong.

He believes that this is in an important role for the next phase of the SkillsFuture journey.

Mr Chee shared that the current stage of economic growth in Singapore needs companies to boost their competitiveness and productivity. He added that “enterprise transformation” must work together with the skill upgrading of workers so that workers too can benefit from transformation efforts.

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