I was looking at the various jobs fair and booths that are set up around the different satellite towns and shopping malls of Singapore. These centres have replaced the traditional community centres where such government initiatives traditionally are ran in.
There’s the prominent ‘skills future’ logo. It is the name of a government agency in Singapore. And of course it also is the name of a scheme where the government basically funds Singaporeans to undergo skills training. One of the biggest thing that the agency does is to look at mapping skills required by the industries and then try to bring people up to standard or bridge skills gap in order to ensure there’s sufficient supply of labour into newer industries. The idea is to transit and transform our labour supply while meeting the demands of the new economy. It all sound pretty compelling.
But I wonder if skills are the real gap. Because the underlying premise here is ‘if only people have access to the skills’ – the government ended up supporting a whole training industry to blossom out of nowhere. Suddenly, there are plenty of people claiming to be experts in one area or another training people en masse in Python, Qliksense, etc. A quick review of YouTube will show that there’re tonnes of free video tutorials for all of these ‘skills’. The guidance on the computers softwares that these courses offer will allow the non-savvy participants to exactly perform the tasks required but not exactly learn those skills.
What is needed is to bridge the attitude gap; the campaigns should be targeting to change the attitude of people towards training and learning. Supporting people in terms of providing allowances during training is a good incentive. Allowing people to offset their training cost is not as good. You want people to take ownership of the learning rather than feel like they have a voucher bundle they need to use up.
Besides, getting a job is really more about attitude than skills. Ask any employer and you’ll know you hire for skills but that’s usually the easy part – finding the right attitude is often more important.