'Never too early or too late' to learn a new skill: DPM Tharman

SINGAPORE - It is never too early or too late in life to pick up a new skill, and Singaporeans must adopt a culture of learning throughout their lives, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

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Here is DPM Shanmugaratnam's full Facebook post:

Learning through life. It's never too late.

One of the interesting things about the community colleges in the US is the way people of all ages enroll - and often in the same class. Some are fresh school leavers. Quite a few are university grads who want to pick up a practical skill to help them in their careers. And some are at the end of their careers, just wanting to pick up a hobby.

Like these two senior folk whom I met last week, while on a study trip to community colleges in the Bay Area on the US west coast. Both were learning for the sake of a hobby.

One of them was a lawyer, 67, who was taking a course in metalworking at De Anza College in Cupertino. (He's on the left.) He told me he wanted to make things with his hands. The other had retired, and enjoyed cooking.

He was taking a culinary arts course at Laney College in Oakland. He wanted to "make me a better cook".

One of his team-mates in their training kitchen was a structural engineer in her 30s, who wanted to switch to the restaurant trade. They enjoyed the peer-learning with people of different backgrounds.

We are launching the SkillsFuture movement. It will make it easy for everyone to learn whenever they wish - back in a poly, ITE or university, or through our new lifelong learning institutes or other training providers.

The courses can be short and bite-sized - a few weeks or months. Or modules that can be stacked up to form a longer course. And either taken online or in actual classes and labs.

It's never too early or late to learn. That's the culture we must create for ourselves in Singapore.

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