Singapore

THE labour movement wants every Singaporean worker to have an individual training account so that they can be responsible for their own training needs and career planning.

This Skillsave account, mooted by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay on Monday, will help workers here be "future ready" even as Singapore undergoes economic restructuring and transformation.

Speaking during a visit to the NTUC LearningHub at the Lifelong Learning Institute, he added that this initiative could build on and be supported by other government schemes such as the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (Aspire), Continuing Education and Training 2020 masterplan, and SkillsFuture.

SkillsFuture is a national long-term effort to help Singaporeans develop skills relevant to their jobs, and help them advance in their careers.

"We are calling on the government to consider setting up this individual account for our workers," said Mr Tay in response to queries by The Business Times. "With all the talk these days about the importance of improving productivity, we think that Skillsave will help workers greatly. We hope the government will respond in due course."

In a separate statement, the NTUC shared how it has been lobbying for such a training account to be set up for workers here since the early-1990s.

The labour movement piloted a similar training initiative back in 2005 with four of its social enterprises, which allowed workers to tap on their individual accounts to pay for employability and enrichment courses.

The NTUC ended the account in 2009 because there was enhanced funding for training from the government at that time because of the global financial crisis.

The Skillsave account, if it materialises, will empower workers to make their own learning decisions. It will also cater to different training needs and interests, as well as address existing gaps for those who do not have access to the Workfare Training Support scheme.

"On the part of workers, taking their own initiative to upgrade their skills could also help raise productivity," the NTUC said. "This would also encourage lifelong learning, a mastery of skills and even second-skilling by supporting individual-initiated training for a person's entire career and lifetime."

The labour movement stressed that Skillsave should be both portable and seamless, and that it should follow the workers as they move across jobs and careers over time.