Learning is a Lifelong Journey
Henry Ford, one of the greatest innovators of the 20th century once said “anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” This quote rings especially true today in an era where the accessibility to abundant information is leading to rapid advancement in global societies.
That being said, have you ever considered whether you may still be relevant as a worker in the future? What would the future of work look like, and will you have the relevant skills? Or perhaps, you’re looking to improve and progress in your career but lack the particular skillset required. Education does not have to stop after you graduate. In fact, it would be detrimental to stop learning in today’s increasingly competitive and technologically advanced world.
How and where do I start upskilling myself?
There are plenty of reasons why an individual should increase knowledge and skills regardless of age. While most Singaporean workers have established the importance of keeping the flame of curiosity burning, many may not be aware of the various government initiatives to encourage individuals to continue reskilling and upskilling, regardless of age. Others may also be unsure of how or where to start. If you’re feeling stuck trying to develop a new skill or learning a new field of study, there are a few avenues that can point you in the right direction.
One of the main pillars of continuous lifelong learning initiatives here in Singapore is the SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). SSG is a statutory board under the Ministry of Education that helps to promote a culture and system of lifelong learning through the pursuit of skills mastery and strengthening of education and training. The board aims to enable individuals to pursue learning regardless of an individual’s current stage of their career and pursue skills mastery that can develop into fulfilling careers while creating a future-ready workforce in Singapore. As such, the core focus of the SSG is the working adult group. It plays a key role in quality assurance for private education institutions and adult training centres by taking on all functions of the Committee for Private Education (CPE) and guiding the Institute for Adult Learning (IAL Singapore) in ensuring quality and professionalism of adult educators. SSG also coordinates efforts in Continuing Education and Training (CET) and Pre-Employment Training (PET) through strategic partnerships with institutions as well as setting up conducive centres for adult learning and training.
All Singaporeans aged 25 and above will receive a SkillsFuture opening credit of S$500. There’s also a one-off SkillsFuture Credit top-up of S$500 for every Singapore citizen who is aged 25 years and above as of 31 December 2020. To top it off, there’s another one-off S$500 mid-career support for those aged 40-60 years old who are looking to access career transition programmes. So if you qualify in all 3 criteria, that’s a nice total of $1,500 to get you started on one of the SkillsFuture endorsed courses or programmes through affiliates.
CET centres established by SSG serve as public training providers that offer a wide array of Workforce Skills Qualifications (the WSQ system) courses as well as services related to employment advisory and placement. These centres offer courses and training programmes for adults looking to reskill or upskill across a wide range of industries such as retail, tourism, hospitality, aerospace, security, finance, digital animation, process engineering, culinary skills, basic literacy, numeracy and service skills.
The Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI) is one such example that was set up as an adult education campus. Centres such as the LLI cater to individuals, employers, and trainers alike by providing conducive logistical facilities (lecture hall, video conferencing etc.), career advice, information on training, and help employers address their manpower needs by facilitating strategic industry connections. You can also expect services such as a library (aptly named the Llibrary), skills and training advisory, a Lifelong Learning Exploration centre, and an innovation hub at the LLI campus.
There are many SSG affiliate CET centres across the island, and you might want to pick one that caters directly to your needs. For example, the Lithan Academy, a digital skills accelerator from Singapore with a network of over 50 campuses across Asia. Lithan supports everyone from higher education students to mid-career working adults in their pursuit of digital upskilling, digital career progression, digital workforce incubation, and digital transformation for enterprises. The Asian Culinary Institute (ACI) Singapore is another example of a joint collaboration with SSG, appointed as Anchor Provider for the food & beverage industry.
Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
The internet is revolutionary because it enables access to knowledge at your fingertips. There’s good and bad information out on the web, but in the past decade, we’ve seen various platforms with affiliations to accredited universities dramatically change the way people learn by instantly providing access to quality online courses on a variety of subjects to millions of people worldwide.
Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs in short, have been gaining traction because of their logistical flexibility, low costs, and quality learning. Platforms such as Coursera, Udemy, EdX, FutureLearn, and Canvas Network are trusted MOOCs that have established their reputation for providing quality courses at affordable rates. So if there’s a specific skill that you’re looking to learn or sharpen, chances are there’s an accredited course for you that’s available for free or for a low fee on one of these platforms.
Cultivate a habit of reading
We don’t just mean reading books. A reading habit means reading anything you can set your eyes upon, whether it’s an online article, a magazine, or a work of literature. The more you read, the more you absorb knowledge. Though at times something that you’re reading may not seem relevant to you, the stored knowledge from reading may just come in handy in the future when you least expect it. It’s good practice to be able to read anything you come across and digest the information. If there’s a specific skill that you want to develop, having a reading habit certainly improves your chances of seeking relevant information across all resources, from the internet to a library. And that’s because cultivating a habit of reading is in itself a skill.
There are many reasons to justify why education should be a lifelong journey, but none of it is as important as having to keep our minds sharp and stay relevant in the future. Regardless of your age, gender, or which stage of your career you are in, there are various ways for you to access that knowledge and few barriers for you to get started. Letting the flame of curiosity extinguish is not only a bad move, it can also cost you your livelihood during uncertain times. So go forth and learn as much as you can about the things you want to, and remember that education is a lifelong journey.