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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Impact of Training on Workers' Wages

Notice Paper No. 344 of 2013 For The Sitting On 21 Oct 2013
Question No. 1452 For Written Answer

MP: Dr Janil Puthucheary

To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower over the last two years (a) how effective have been the Government's efforts in the training and retraining of workers to meet the needs of economic restructuring; (b) how many workers have been able to obtain wage increases after undergoing retraining programmes; (c) how has training and retraining for PMETs under the Skills Training for Excellence Programme (STEP) benefitted them effectively in the workplace; and (d) how does the Ministry track the effectiveness of training and re-training programmes.


  1. As we restructure our economy to be more productive, some jobs will be lost, even as new and better ones are created. What is key is that workers who lose their jobs are able to transit to another job quickly. To remain employable, workers will need to upgrade their skills to take on the higher value-added jobs created, or re-skill to land jobs in new or hiring industries. WDA plays an important role in supporting the efforts of our workers.
  2. WDA regularly reviews the curriculum and courses under its Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework, in consultation with key industry partners, to help ensure the courses equip workers with skills that are relevant to employers. We have also launched dedicated programmes for specific segments of the workforce like the Skills Training for Excellence Programme (STEP) for Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs), and Workfare Training Support (WTS) for lower wage workers, to make skills upgrading more affordable, accessible and relevant to them.
  3. Since its launch in March 2011, STEP has helped PMEs update their skills, knowledge and expertise. STEP offers a wide range of training programmes, for example, modular courses, WSQ and non-WSQ courses leading to full qualifications, industry scholarships, and master-classes and seminars, to meet the needs of PMEs from different industries and at varying levels. The proportion of workers who attended PME-level courses supported by WDA has increased from one-quarter in 2011 to one-third in 2012.
  4. To help workers transit to jobs in growth or hiring industries and provide them with the necessary training and experience before taking on these jobs, WDA has in place career conversion programmes for PMEs. We are prepared to expand our efforts if needed, as economic restructuring picks up pace.
  5. The Government’s investment in continuing education and training (CET) has led to positive outcomes. WDA regularly tracks the outcomes of our CET programmes through surveys of companies and individuals who have undergone WSQ training. The results of the 2012 survey showed that both employers and trainees found WSQ training beneficial. 85% of surveyed companies said that WSQ training was useful for their employees. 74% of surveyed companies said that the training led to increased productivity. 92% of surveyed trainees also reported better performance at work and 15% received a pay rise after undergoing WSQ training. WDA has also embarked on a longitudinal study in 2012 to analyse the impact of WSQ training on wages. The findings showed that individuals who underwent WSQ training received higher wages compared to workers of a similar profile (such as age and qualifications attained) but without WSQ training.
  6. There are also other benefits to training which are less-tangible but equally, if not more, important. This includes better employability, greater motivation, and improved self-confidence. Based on the survey, 77% of employees indicated greater motivation at work after undergoing training. More importantly, beyond these statistics, it is about making a difference to individuals and their families through our CET programmes. For example, a retrenched worker who finds a job in a different industry may have to take some pay cut in the new job since he is starting afresh, but the ability to find a new job and stand on his own feet after the setback of retrenchment is an important achievement in itself.
  7. The Government will continue to work closely with the tripartite partners to strengthen our CET system to help our workers achieve better job and wage progression. At the same time, I would like to encourage all Singaporeans to embrace the spirit of lifelong learning and to proactively take advantage of the CET programmes to keep their skills relevant.