Dear A.S.S. Editor

I refer to the article “More Singaporeans sought training in 2016, but mindset change still needed, says SkillsFuture chief” (Straits Times, Feb 5). It states that “In its effort to get Singaporeans up to speed in a constantly-disrupted world, the government funded nearly 1 million – 920,000 – training places last year. This is up from 830,000 in 2015.

Some 380,000 people went for training in courses as varied as computer coding and pastry-making, up from 350,000 in 2015.” The ratio of “people went for training” to “training places funded” works out to 0.413 (380,000 divided by 920,000) and 0.422 (350,000 divided by 830,000) in 2016 and 2015, respectively. So, does it mean that, arguably on a relative and proportional basis – less people actually went for training last year compared to 2015?

Even worse if include new entrants to workforce & new citizens? Also, if we include the estimated 25,000 new entrants to the workforce and estimated 20,000 new citizens (of which say an estimated 15,000 are of working age) last year – the relative statistics may be even worse. “Lagi” worse with rising unemployment and redundancies? Moreover, with rising unemployment and redundancies last year – more may have gone for training, which similarly may make the relative statistics even worse.

So, if the above is correct – don’t you think that the statement “But even as more Singaporeans heeded the call to undergo skills mastery and lifelong learning, mindset change does not come easily” – may not seem to be right? Shouldn’t it be “less Singaporeans” instead of “more Singaporeans”? Similarly, for the statement “We don’t want to be blindly chasing numbers…we don’t want to just see numbers going up but (where) at the back of it, the mindsets haven’t really changed” – shouldn’t it be “numbers going down” instead of “numbers going up”?

If so, as to the statement “gives it a decent B-grade, if numbers alone told of its progress” – shouldn’t it be “regressed” instead of “progress”? How about taking a course in simple Mathematics? For those of you who are reading this (including the journalists who write such stories) – perhaps you may like to use your SkillsFuture Credit to take a course in simple Mathematics, so that you may have a better understanding of the above – and figure out for yourself – whether the numbers are up or down?

Numbers down despite launch of SkillsFuture Credit? As to “Last year was a busy one for the national drive. There was the roll out of the SkillsFuture Credit scheme, which gives every Singaporean aged 25 and older $500 credit to pay for skills courses. It was introduced last January for about 2.5 million people” – don’t you find it rather puzzling that despite giving $500 credit to 2.5 million people – the relative statistics as described above may have gotten worse? With regard to “More than 126,000 people, or about 5 per cent of those eligible, used it in the scheme’s first year.

“We’ve made steady progress”” – Only 1 in 20? Isn’t this rather low as it represents only about one in 20 eligible Singaporeans? Why? What are the reasons for this apparently low take-up rate?

Leong Sze Hian

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