2014 in review: Hits and misses in Singapore

2014 in review: Hits and misses in Singapore

For Singapore, 2014 was a year of change.

The Government made several major policy changes that affected areas such as retirement funding and its universal health-care policy.

Change was also in the air for Singaporeans - they saw drought-like weather at the start of the year, which was followed by a serious bout of haze, before intense rains swept in as the year drew to a close.

The Straits Times takes a look back at some of the top headline-makers of 2014.

HITS

1 New focus on skills and job performance

Study hard, earn a degree and land a well-paid job. That was the traditional formula for success for many Singaporeans.

This year, another path was mapped out as a national effort got under way to stress skills over paper qualifications.

The Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire) committee urged students, workers and employers to focus on skills and job performance, instead of seeing a degree as the only road to success.

The committee was led by Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah.

Key recommendations included providing pathways for students from technical institutes to work and enhance their qualifications at the same time.

Institute of Technical Education and polytechnic graduates would get more career guidance as well.

The committee also proposed a route by which workers could progress in their careers while building on their skills.

2 Benefits galore for pioneers

If a colour could describe Singapore this year, it would undoubtedly be silver.

The Government has embraced the silver tsunami by launching a massive campaign this year to honour the pioneer generation.

It began with the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package, announced during the Budget in March. Some 450,000 people aged 65 and older this year, and who became citizens before 1987, became eligible for a suite of health-care benefits.

These include Medisave top-ups and lower premiums for the upcoming MediShield Life.

To make sure the perks will be understood by all, the Government rolled out an aggressive ad campaign - printing fliers and roping in local entertainers for explanatory videos.

On Sept 1 - when most of the subsidies kicked in - The Straits Times reported that seniors flocked to polyclinics to use their new cards. Some had even delayed treatment to take advantage of the subsidies.

Since then, a multitude of initiatives to honour these seniors have sprung up, including discounts for groceries and dining, and promotional banking rates.

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