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Singapore, Asian Opinions

Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Singapore, Asian Opinions

Beyond competence, towards mastery of skills

The Straits Times | Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday highlighted the importance of lifelong learning and respect for the mastery of skills, as Singapore enters a new phase of development. He was speaking at the opening of the Lifelong Learning Institute. Here's an excerpt of his speech:

WE ARE essentially embarking on a new phase in our development in education, and as a nation. We have built a school and tertiary education system that is amongst the best-regarded internationally. That remains a real strength for the future. But as we achieve each new stage of development in education, aspirations go up and new possibilities emerge. That's a positive, and we must make the most of these possibilities.

In our next wave of development, we will build a first-rate system of continuing education and training: learning throughout life. It will intertwine education and the world of work in ways that strengthen and enrich both. It will enable every Singaporean to maximise his or her potential, from young and through life.

We are no longer a developing economy. But we are not yet an advanced economy, with the skills, productivity and median incomes equivalent to those of the leading nations.

In our next phase, we will make Singapore an advanced economy, and ensure us of a fair society, with opportunities for every Singaporean to maximise his or her potential and lead fulfilling lives.

We must aspire to move beyond competence and doing a regular job, towards mastering skills. We must cherish and respect the mastery of skills - the knowledge, practice and passion that goes into mastering skills, no matter what the job. That has to be our ethos as a society, starting from young, as employers and colleagues at the workplace, in how we respond as consumers, and in the way we regard each other as fellow-citizens. It's about respecting the innate dignity of every citizen, and the sense of fulfilment that comes from developing a skill and being valued for your contributions to society.

The Aspire (Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review) Committee has made a bold set of recommendations to strengthen opportunities for polytechnic and ITE students to progress and achieve their aspirations.

Our CET (Continuing Education and Training) Masterplan 2020 will also revamp continuous education and training to enable all Singaporeans, regardless of qualifications, to build and deepen their skills throughout their careers.

We will now bring together Aspire's work and the new CET Masterplan, and take them forward. As Prime Minister announced at his recent National Day Rally, we will set up a tripartite council to drive this next phase in developing our people.

We will soon launch this new "SkillsFuture" Council. SkillsFuture encapsulates the journey we are embarking on: We want to help everyone develop the skills relevant to the future, and we must build a future based on mastery, in every job.

Everyone has to take ownership of this SkillsFuture journey.

First and foremost, it is about each of us as individuals. We must take ownership of our own learning and development, and control our destinies. The Government will help by ensuring a broad menu of educational and training options - from young, and continuing through your career. But we will also develop a rich framework of educational and career guidance, starting with our secondary schools, moving on to our JCs, polytechnics and ITEs - and accompanying us through life.

Even when you are in secondary school, it is good to have a vague idea of what your aptitudes are, and what you might be interested in. Not choosing a course just because you qualified based on your A-level score or GPA (grade point average), but because it appeals to you, you feel you will be interested enough in the field to keep learning, to keep progressing and applying yourself with passion.

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