Opportunities For All


If the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review Committee’s (ASPIRE) recommendations can be summed up in four phrases, NTUC’s Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) Heng Chee How would put it this way: ‘Teach Right, Learn Right, Work Right and Reward Right’.

Sharing the Labour Movement’s perspectives on ASPIRE’s wide-ranging recommendations, DSG Heng said this will put Singaporeans on a virtuous cycle of skills building, value creation, good rewards and ever-improving living standards.

DSG Heng and Members of Parliament (MPs) NTUC Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) Zainal Sapari and NTUC Vice-President K Karthikeyan joined in the debate on ASPIRE in Parliament on 8 and 9 September 2014.


Together with nearly 20 MPs, they endorsed the Committee’s report which aims to ensure that all Singaporeans, whatever their qualifications, enjoy full opportunities to upgrade and progress during their working lives.

Parliament also endorsed a tripartite approach to instill a culture of lifelong learning as well as recognise and reward individuals based on their skills and performance.


To support ASPIRE, the Labour Movement has a slew of ideas to share with Singaporeans on how NTUC and its unions can play their part to realise the targets put forth.

ASG Zainal called on the Education Ministry to work with NTUC’s youth lifestyle membership club nEbO to help the younger generation be ‘Work-Ready, World- Ready and Life-Ready’.

In his maiden speech before the House, Nominated Labour MP and General Secretary of the United Workers of Petroleum Industry (UWPI) K Karthikeyan added a personal touch on what ASPIRE means to him.


Elaborating, DSG Heng explained that for the full value of the ASPIRE Report to be realised, there’s a need to focus on three critical points.

First is ‘Teach Right, Learn Right’, and that’s about ensuring that courses of study being offered are valuable and relevant to current and emerging industry needs.

Help should also be given to students to choose the right course of study that best fits their talents, aspirations and abilities.


DSG Heng added: “This part concerns the workplace. In today’s reality, lifelong learning and lifelong updating of knowledge and skills are not just nice add-ons for those with extraordinary aspirations, but a basic action to preserve employability for workers and competitiveness for companies.

“The better Singapore is at ensuring updating and relevance of skills, the more resilient and attractive its workforce and economy would be for the future. “Thus, it is vital that substantial attention be paid to and significant investments be made in CET (Continuing Education and Training).”

Citing the electronics industry, he said it has a real challenge to find and keep skilled personnel.

To address the problem head on, companies in the Wafer Fabrication industry and the Assembly and Test industry teamed up with the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries (UWEEI), Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and Economic Development Board (EDB) to develop an industry-wide Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) upgrading framework.


As a result, thousands of technicians and engineers have a structured way to upgrade competencies which are recognised industry-wide, said DSG Heng, who is also the Executive Secretary of UWEEI. “The third focus is to ‘Work Right, Reward Right’.

“The best intentions of the ASPIRE Report will come to naught if there is poor follow through at the workplace, or if companies are not doing their best to retain and upgrade talent, skills and experience,” he explained.


Sharing her views on the topic was Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Health Dr Amy Khor.

She said: “Fundamentally, we need to shift towards greater recognition for skills and competencies – not merely educational attainments, and to value individuals for who they are and what they can contribute, regardless of their quali!cations or background.”

Dr Khor said that aspiring for the outcomes in the report is not the Government’s job alone.

She noted that tripartite cooperation, a hallmark of Singapore and a close nexus between the government, training providers, unions and employers, is especially critical in helping to deliver the ASPIRE recommendations.

(Source: NTUC This Week)

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