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Speech by Ms Gan Siow Huang at the SkillsFuture Festival X SUSS

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. Good morning. It is nice to see everyone gathered here today. We have been encouraging lifelong learning for many years, and I am delighted to see that the momentum is gaining strength. There is a lot of support from the Government, our industry partners, our training providers, education institutions and most of all, from the individual adult learners who are the beneficiaries of all these efforts. I would also like to thank SUSS for organising this event.

IHLs' Contribution to Lifelong Learning

  1. The IHLs are key valued partners in our lifelong learning ecosystem. The number of adult learners trained by the IHLs has grown by around 70% from around 230,000 in 2019 to 394,000 in 2022 and this number is still growing.
  1. It is apt that SUSS is organising today's event as it is a frontrunner among the IHLs in championing lifelong learning. It offers more part-time undergraduate degree places for working adults than full-time undergraduate degree places catering to fresh school leavers.
  1. For example, Ms Siti Zuraida Binte Mohammed Sulaiman, aged 44, is currently pursuing a part-time undergraduate degree in Human Resource Management at SUSS.
    1. Siti graduated from ITE with a Certificate in Office Skills and entered the workforce in 2001, more than 20 years ago.
    2. Despite not having attended formal training in the last 20 years, Siti decided to sign up for a Diploma in Employment Development, jointly offered by the Ong Teng Cheong Labour Leadership Institute (OTCi) and SUSS. She completed it in 18 months, juggling between her work and studies.
    3. To further deepen her knowledge in HR management, Siti is now pursuing a part-time degree. She can complete it faster under the Recognition of Prior Learning scheme jointly developed by SUSS and OTCi.
  1. With MOE's recent expansion of the lifetime Cohort Participation Rate from 50 to 60 per cent, more diploma upgraders like Siti can benefit from degree-level skills upgrading to meet their career aspirations and professional needs.
  1. Apart from full qualification programmes, our IHLs are also diversifying their range of CET course offerings
    1. To support such just-in-time upskilling, they offer bite-sized modular courses for skills top-ups in emerging areas.
    2. They are also stepping up support for mid-career individuals who are looking to pivot to new sectors with better hiring opportunities – for example, through SkillsFuture Career Transition Programmes. As of June 2023, we have successfully launched 139 SCTP courses in 14 sectors, and these are in sectors with good employment opportunities including the Infocomm and Technology, Professional Services and Healthcare sectors – of which 61, or about half, are delivered by our IHLs. We have seen 2,800 enrolments thus far.
  1. I would like to commend the IHLs on your good work in lifelong learning and commitment in helping every adult learner. Collectively, you can fulfil an important mission to help keep Singapore and our workforce competitive.
  1. While we celebrate the IHLs' good work today, let me also pose three challenges to you so we can shift our SkillsFuture strategies to a higher gear, as Minister Chan often says.

Connection between IHLs and Industry

  1. First, how can the IHLs strengthen their nexus and partnerships with industry and develop training solutions in response to industry needs?
  1. Many IHLs are stepping up their business development capabilities to better understand and meet companies' needs, and I think we can do more.
    1. For example, Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) introduced the NYP360 initiative to provide end-to-end business solutions to enterprises.
    2. The NYP360 seeks to cater to enterprises' holistic needs. It helps businesses digitalise their processes, providing technical solutions to improve productivity.
    3. NYP360 is a one-stop service that supports enterprise transformation through job redesign and training solutions to upskill workers into new roles.
  1. To better support IHLs in their industry engagement efforts, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) is putting in place enablers to help all training providers better sense-make the evolving skills demand of industry.
    1. For example, SSG is growing a network of intermediaries that can aggregate the skills needs of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in their sectors. We often hear from SMEs that they are unclear about the current and emerging skills demands. Hence, SSG is doing something very important as they are enabling our SMEs to keep up with the skills of their own staff as well as the future workers.
    2. Through big data research and data analytics, SSG is also enhancing its skills advisory and signposting efforts to direct learners, companies and training providers to skills in demand.
  1. The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), an autonomous institute set up within SUSS, is also a central enabler to facilitate a healthy exchange of knowledge and ideas across industry as well as institutions.
    1. For example, IAL has initiated an accelerated industry pathway to train industry practitioners with deep domain expertise to become adult educators.
    2. Compacting the Train-the-Trainer programmes can facilitate the entry of more qualified industry practitioners into IHLs as adjunct faculty or as Adult Educators in the Training and Adult Education sector.
    3. IAL piloted this for the media industry in end 2022 and is now working with NTUC LearningHub and SBS Transit to roll out similar programmes for the transport sector by the end of this year. I look forward to the extension of this very interesting initiative to more companies and sectors in the future.

Collaboration between IHLs

  1. Second, how can the IHLs better collaborate within the sector, leveraging on one another's distinctive strengths in developing and delivering CET?
  1. Such collaboration can take the form of sharing of resources and capabilities or cross-recognition of qualifications. For example, the part-time Diploma in Applied Science (Medical Laboratory Science) is jointly delivered by the five polytechnics, leveraging their respective strengths. Students gain a multi-campus experience as each modular certificate is offered by a different polytechnic, with Republic Polytechnic offering the eventual qualification.
  1. There is room for greater collaboration between the Autonomous Universities and the Polytechnics. For example, the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) is launching a new competency-based CET degree model that will be delivered through stackable micro-credentials.
    1. It is working with the polytechnics to recognise and qualify some Advanced Diplomas and Specialist Diplomas as micro-credentials for the new degree.
    2. To build capabilities in competency-based education, it has also recently launched the SIT Teaching and Learning Academy (STLA). In time to come, such capabilities can be shared across the IHL sector.

Centricity of Adult Learners

  1. Lastly, whatever we do has to be about the adult learners, how to help them learn better, faster and meet their learning needs. How can the IHLs design and innovate their CET programmes and pedagogies to meet the diverse and rapidly evolving skills needs of adult learners?
  1. The use of educational technology paired with sound andragogy, can enhance the CET accessibility and overall learning experience and effectiveness for learners.
    1. Building on the progress made in blended learning during COVID-19, the IHLs are considering where they can incorporate more asynchronous learning into CET programmes that can be done at the learner's own pace.
    2. This can allow valuable in-person time to be channeled towards classroom facilitation and hands-on practicum in key skill areas.
  1. This morning, I am happy to witness SUSS's launch of the Digital Andragogy Blueprint, in collaboration with Microsoft.
    1. The blueprint can help educators select the most suitable digital tool to engage learners effectively and improve their overall learning experience.
    2. It serves as a practical guide, drawing on the case studies of four different organisations in their digital learning journey.
    3. IAL's research into effective digital andragogy for classroom facilitation, tech-enabled learning and workplace learning can further support IHLs' development and investment in this area.
  1. There are also good overseas CET models and practices that we can learn from and adapt to our own needs. For example, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) is launching 42 Singapore – a computer programming school, in partnership with Ecole 42.
    1. 42SG has no academic pre-requisites and is delivered with no teachers, no classes and no tuition fees. Students learn through collaboration with their peers, and 100% project-based learning. Their progress is tracked through experience points awarded upon the completion of each project.
    2. I understand that SUTD has received an overwhelming response from applicants and is shortlisting candidates for their inaugural intake in September this year.
    3. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of 42SG. Its success in Singapore could spur our institutions to experiment with novel CET models.


  1. In conclusion, I am really heartened to see the good work by the IHLs in lifelong learning ecosystem in Singapore. With better connection to industry, collaboration among the IHLs and centricity on adult learners, I believe you will create even greater impact on our local enterprises and ultimately on workforce development in Singapore. Thank you.
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