Lifelong Learning in Singapore: A Multifunctional Agenda

Lifelong learning (hereafter abbreviated as LL) has been employed by many governments to manage a wide spectrum of issues. Depictions of LL in East Asia, especially Singapore, have stressed its role as a government-led initiative for up-skilling the workforce. There is little analysis of the use of LL to tackle other socio-economic or socio-political challenges. It is thus the aim of this research to add to this body of knowledge by showing that the LL phenomenon has been used for a range of purposes to tackle a diversity of issues in Singapore, especially as a response to the economic crisis in the year 2008 – 2009. Of particular interest are the public policies introduced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore which will be examined through publicly available data such as published ministerial speeches, policy documents and newspaper articles. The data will be analysed to identify the purposes and consistency of LL frameworks used by MOM in the areas of policy intentions, and actions.

Existing literature on LL in Singapore (see Ashton, Green, et. al. 2002 and Kumar, 2004) have portrayed the main intention of LL policy as being to raise the skills of workers to meet the effects of economic transformation and globalisation. However, I will argue that the LL strategy has also been used by the Singapore government to manage an acute but short-lived severe unemployment situation during the global recession in 2008/2009. This LL policy has since evolved into a new welfare mechanism known as Workfare for older low-skilled low- wage workers. These are distinctive applications of LL with great potential for implementation by other countries as complimentary social support systems for their citizens.

Read the full dissertation here.




Anderson Tan

Anderson Tan | Director, biipmi Pte Ltd

Anderson is passionate about Lifelong Learning for lifelong employability. He believes it pays to invest in gaining, retaining and regaining employment through marketing innovations. Hence biipmi. Anderson has a distinction in M.Arts in Lifelong Learning from Institute of Education, M.Eng and 1st Class Hon. Degree from NUS. He is a career coach, an adult educator, and an entrepreneur.

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