In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of today, Singapore’s workers need to constantly upgrade themselves in order to stay ahead of the curve and push the economic frontiers of the nation. In October 2016, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) underwent a restructuring exercise and was reconstituted into the Workforce Singapore Agency (WSG) under the Ministry of Manpower. A new statutory board, the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency (SSG) was also formed under the Ministry of Education. By promoting development, competitiveness and employability, WSG helps workers remain relevant, so as to meet their career aspirations. This is complimented by SSG, who helms the national SkillsFuture movement and promotes a culture of lifelong learning.
The SSG-WSG scholarship is a joint initiative between both organisations that exposes young talents passionate about creating a competitive workforce, to development across both agencies. Scholars Lee Yue Kai, 27, and Foong Tai Wei, 30, tell us how this scholarship has enabled them to play a role in shaping our workforce and skills for the future.
What attracted you to the SSG-WSG scholarship?
Lee Yue Kai: Keeping my skills relevant and constant upgrading have always been priorities for me. It was thus a good alignment between my personal aspirations and SSG and WSG’s focus.
SSG focuses on driving the national SkillsFuture movement, promoting lifelong learning and skills mastery, and strengthening Singapore’s ecosystem of education and training. As I strongly believe in the importance of skills in helping one stay relevant in the changing world, SSG’s work keeps me engaged and fulfilled. I also look forward to how SSG and WSG can cooperate closely on providing the necessary support for the jobs-skills ecosystem.
Foong Tai Wei: My mother told me about the daughter of an elderly security officer who had to ask him for his GST credits so that she would have enough for her children and it pained me to hear the story.
I had then completed two internships with the private sector and I wanted something more fulfilling and purpose-driven, as opposed to being just profit-driven. WDA was then a relatively new Statutory Board and when I did further research on WDA, it dawned on me that by working in WDA, I would be able to influence and shape policies that benefit people like the security officer.
Lee Yue Kai
Manager, Strategic Planning Division, SkillsFuture Singapore
Bachelor of Business Administration (Specialisation in Marketing and Management), NUS
Tell us more about your job. What memorable moments have you had?
Yue Kai: As part of a policy team within SSG supporting SkillsFuture, I am involved in meetings at many levels and get to hear the discussions and opinions of many stakeholders, including political office holders.
My team had conceptualised and implemented two SkillsFuture awards (SkillsFuture Fellowships and SkillsFuture Employer Awards), which involved the development of policy parameters and implementation processes, in consultation with tripartite partners.
I also had an opportunity to work with MOE colleagues and the Swiss Embassy to conceptualise a Switzerland-Singapore Business Forum for SkillsFuture to reinforce Switzerland-Singapore ties and promote SkillsFuture on a national platform. The event was graced by the President of Switzerland and DPM Tharman. It was a unique experience working with people from different backgrounds and cultures to put together a successful event.
Tai Wei: Currently, I am part of the policy team in the Strategic & Resource Planning Division. I am involved in reviewing key policies and strategies within WSG’s mandate, and I work with both external and internal stakeholders to ensure coherence of strategies, mission alignment and conveyance of WSG’s position.
Hearing how our work has helped members of the public makes my day. Once during my earlier posting, an elderly gentleman who was struggling with getting through his Security WSQ assessments contacted me. I provided him with the necessary support by lending him a listening ear and some moral encouragement. A couple of days later, I was so delighted to know that he had passed the assessment! To show how appreciative he was, he wrote a complimentary letter to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Foong Tai Wei
Senior Manager, Strategic and Resource Planning Division, Workforce Singapore
Bachelor of Social Science (Double Major in Political Science and Organisational Behaviour & Human Resource), SMU
How has the SSG-WSG scholarship benefitted you?
Yue Kai: As part of the planned postings for scholars, I had the opportunity to be exposed to both industry engagement and policy work at the early stages of my career. This has helped to develop me holistically. Through this, I had a better understanding of how our policies have impacted the workforce.
Tai Wei: WSG believes in investing in our people. There is a structured learning and development framework available to all staff. We are also given wonderful opportunities to experience the different functions through job rotations. In addition, there are also planned development programs, projects and postings for scholars that provide us with the needed exposure in the early years of our career.
What can aspiring scholars look forward to with a career at SSG or WSG?
Yue Kai: You can look forward to a vibrant learning culture supported by various learning and developmental initiatives to help you progress and grow.
Depending on your interest, your will get the opportunity to experience cross-agency/divisional projects, overseas study trips, as well as postings and secondments. You can also seek advice on your career development and growth from experienced senior leaders, through our mentoring programme.
Tai Wei: While we are two agencies now providing just one scholarship, individuals can now be exposed to the developmental opportunities available in both agencies. This includes posting opportunities across both agencies, involvement in joint-agency projects, et cetera.
So do not be afraid of getting your hands dirty. Scholars should not espouse a sense of self-entitlement and feel that some tasks are “beneath them”. Every job is important for an organisation to function. I, myself have also helped with the logistical requirements of various events and attended to complex public queries before. There are lessons to be learnt from the little things.