Sector-specific skill benchmarks to help chart career paths

SINGAPORE - Workers will soon have clear and standardised benchmarks to guide them in upgrading skills and charting career paths.

The standards will be made sector-specific, so that bosses can reward workers based on defined skills which they have achieved, the authorities announced yesterday.

In the early childhood education sector, for instance, a junior nursery teacher should be able to set up conducive environments in classrooms and use books and games for lessons. But as he moves into a mid-career level, he would be expected to customise learning to his pupils' needs.

Finally, to go even higher, he should be able to assess the effectiveness of the learning environments and resources.

Introducing these industry standards will allow skills - and not paper qualifications - to determine career progress.

"We would be able to encourage employees to move up the ladder," said Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah. "Or in some cases the movement may be lateral, where they deepen their skills and become master craftsmen. But the overriding thought is to give them the opportunity to go further to realise their aspirations."

The skill benchmarks are among the recommendations by the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review committee led by Ms Indranee.

Employers and workers, she said at a press conference yesterday, can refer to these skill benchmarks to chart different career paths.

The Singapore Workforce Development Agency will take the lead in developing these benchmarks, having run the Workforce Skills Qualifications training scheme since 2005.

Employers welcomed the change. Restaurant chain Sakae Holdings' chairman Douglas Foo said that having national standards will help him be sure a worker can do his job well.

But Mr Jonathan Asherson, ASEAN and Pacific regional director of engine-maker Rolls-Royce, said workers of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may struggle to take up training. "Bigger firms should encourage the SMEs they do business with to build up a skilled workforce. They can help to draw up some of these training programmes."

This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
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