Education & Training Sector in Singapore

Education & Training Sector in Singapore

Singapore places a heavy emphasis on knowledge intensive work as it looks to develop deeper skill sets and capabilities, so as to sustain growth and create better jobs for citizens in high value-added industries.

Market overview

Singapore’s education system is internationally recognised for its strengths and it is able to achieve good outcomes through judicious investments in key areas that matter, such as through the building of a quality teaching force and infrastructure that supports holistic learning. Nevertheless, Singapore is constantly improving its education system to deliver the best education to prepare its young well for an ever-changing future.

A total budget of £5.3 billion has been allocated to the Ministry of Education (MOE) in FY2012. MOE will subsidise the operations of schools and tertiary institutions as follows:

  • £2.65 billion for the operations of primary schools, special education schools, secondary schools, independent schools, centralised institute and junior colleges;

  • £1.3 billion for the operations of the four autonomous universities, i.e. National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), UniSIM, and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT);

  • £0.65 billion for the operations of the five polytechnics and two tertiary arts institutions; and

  • £0.25 billion for the operations of Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Faced with a significantly tighter labour market, Singapore recognises the importance of sustaining its economic growth through higher skills and innovation with productivity as the basis for higher incomes for Singaporeans. Effective and relevant training will be of utmost importance to ensure that the workforce is able to re-skill and up-skill. To this end, Singapore set up the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council (NPCEC) in April 2010 with a focus on upgrading the skills and competencies of employees across industries such as financial services, process construction and social services. The NPCEC aims to achieve productivity growth of two to three per cent per annum over the next 10 years, or 30 per cent cumulatively over the same period. By 2030, the real median wage is targeted to grow to approximately £1,900.

Key opportunities

Expand Opportunities in the Higher Education Sector. MOE will continue to invest in its Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) to sustain a quality and vibrant Higher Education sector to provide Singaporeans access to an education that will equip them with the skills and disposition to stay relevant in a fast-changing world.

Today, more than 60% of the cohort receives a quality education at its five Polytechnics and the ITE. MOE will continue to step up investments in these two sectors to ensure that they are viable and attractive pathways for preparing students for the future economy. MOE will invest £3.5 billion and £1 billion in these two sectors respectively over the next five years.

With the recent announcement that UniSIM and SIT will be the fifth and sixth universities respectively, MOE is studying how to provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to access university-level education, and to develop and shape its local talent pool to be ready to meet challenges in the future. The Committee on University Education Pathways (CUEP) will present its findings in end-2012.

Continuing Education and Training. MOE will invest £175 million on Continuing Education and Training (CET) over five years from 2012, to enable its workforce to remain relevant amidst global uncertainty. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will also enhance training support for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by further raising course fee and other subsidies to encourage greater training participation. This will be applicable for all courses certified by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), and for academic CET programmes at the polytechnics and the ITE. Course fee subsidies will be enhanced to 90%, while the absentee payroll cap will be increased from £2.25 an hour to £3.75 an hour. This scheme will run for three years.

Strengthening Support for Effective Delivery of Citizenship and Character Education (CCE). MOE will spearhead, coordinate and enhance efforts for whole-school approaches towards CCE. MOE will focus on the expression and learning of values through meaningful interactions with the community instead of quantitative measurement, and encourage schools to develop coherent and sustainable service learning programmes.

Working with Stakeholders to improve Special Education (SPED). SPED is another area that has benefitted from enhanced partnerships with the community. By 2013, there will be an additional 450 places to two SPED schools. In addition, MOE will develop training opportunities for SPED professionals. MOE will also be working with SPED schools to develop their curriculum based on the MOE Curriculum Framework that defines Education Outcomes and Learning Standards. MOE aims to release the final framework by the end of 2012.

Revamp of pre-school education. To ensure that pre-schools provide a holistic education for children through play, arts, creativity and innovation, Singapore has set aside £5 million over the next two years to attract more teachers to the childcare sector through scholarships and teaching awards. With the recent initiative to add about 200 more childcare centres by 2017, the pre-school sector is slated to offer 3,000 more jobs in the next five years even as childcare centres ramp up operations. The sector currently hires approximately 11,000 people across 1,400 kindergartens and childcare centres.

The Singapore Pre-school Accreditation Framework (SPARK) was established in 2011 to provide quality benchmarks for the wide range of centres. Strong leadership skills are a key requirement for clearing the SPARK checks. MOE has not ruled out making SPARK certification mandatory, although pre-schools that secure certification by March 2013 will receive £1,500 each from MOE.

Latest export opportunities – Education & Training

Latest export opportunities – Singapore

Getting into the market

The Council for Private Education (CPE) is the local regulatory body in charge of private education institutions (PEIs). UK companies who are interested to offer its programmes / courses via a PEI are advised to check that the PEI is registered with CPE. PEIs have to follow the PE Act to protect student interests and the relevant information and the legislation can be found on the Council for Private Education website. For those who intend to offer its web-based programmes / courses directly, they would not be required to register with CPE. UK companies could also explore opportunities to work with local PEIs in third markets since many PEIs have links to, or have branches set up in South-East Asia and other parts of Asia.

WDA has appointed approved training organisations (ATOs) and Continuing Education and Training (CET) centres to deliver the nationally recognised Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) training. WSQ is based on national standards developed by WDA in collaboration with various industries comprising industry sectoral frameworks. Foreign companies could work with potential local partners to explore joint development and delivery of courses and continuing professional development programmes.


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To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows

Latest events – Education & Training

Major Events

HR Summit 2013

Date: 24 – 25 April 2013


Singapore Human Capital Summit 2013

Date: 11-12 September 2013


Useful links

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Sectors: Education & Training
Countries: Singapore
Export Action Plan