Photo of SSG Chief Executive Ng Cher Pong from IALeads

In a media interview with state media, the chief executive of government education agency, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), gives itsself a “decent B grade” for their work to date since their launch in 2015.

Due to Singapore’s declining economy and increasing unemployment figures, the government is telling Singaporeans to take new qualifications that are irrelevant to their trade, just so the population can switch job more easily when retrenched and be more unemployed-resilient. Among the more popular courses under the trade scheme is info-communication.

SSG Chief Executive, Ng Cher Pong, said that the mindset of Singaporeans need to change to one that see the need to pick up new trades:

“Have Singaporeans’ attitudes towards the perennial need to master new skills really changed? Mindset change is not easy to measure, and it certainly won’t change overnight. Thus, the priority going forward would be to continue finding ways to drive a mindset change among Singaporeans. We don’t want to be blindly chasing numbers… we don’t want to just see numbers going up but (where) at the back of it, the mindsets haven’t really changed.”

Blaming “skills mismatch” as a factor for the rising unemployment figures, the chief executive said that the agency is trying to get the unemployed pick up new courses to find new jobs. The civil servant claimed that one of his main achievements is having more Singaporeans signed up for training places, with the state media claiming 920,000 training places being taken up.

However, unemployment figures continue to rise despite the SSG’s “success”. According to the latest employment figures, job seekers outnumbered job vacancies by 100 to 91. The Ministry of Manpower has no intention to tighten the issuance of Employment and S-Pass holders to ensure employers look to local manpower and training first before filling in their vacancies with foreigners.

There is also no statistics released on the number of jobs found that prove the SkillsFuture scheme has actually been effective. Neither there is any mention of the impact of wages for jobseekers trained by the scheme, as the employment situation in Singapore remains exploitative due to the lack of employment protection. Less than 18% of the Singaporeans used the SkillsFuture credit of S$500 given by the government, and it is hence without basis that the scheme can be nothing short of a “success”.