The Skills Development Fund was established in October 1979 through the enactment of the Skills Development Levy Act. In June 1979, the National Wages Council made recommendations for the establishment of a skills development fund that would be supported through contributions by all employers in Singapore. The fund would be used to finance the training of employees, retrain retrenched workers, and upgrade business operations and technology.
The government accepted the recommendations of the council and the Skills Development Levy Bill was passed in Parliament on 21 September 1979. The Skills Development Levy Act commenced on 1 October 1979. Then Finance Minister Hon Sui Sen explained that the levy was a form of economic tax to penalise employers who make little effort to wean off their over-reliance on cheap labour or to improve their work processes. The statement was made in the context of Singapore's economic restructuring that involved a shift from labour-intensive, low-skilled, low-wage industries to technology-intensive, high-skilled and high-wage industries.
The fund was administered by the Ministry of Finance on the advice of a tripartite advisory council, the Skills Development Council. Some of the initiatives launched under the Skills Development Fund include: Basic Education for Skills Training (BEST), Modular Skills Training (MOST), Worker Improvement through Secondary Education (WISE), Core Skills for Effectiveness and Change (COSEC), and Critical Enabling Skills Training (CREST).
Today, the fund is managed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), which provides financial incentives to companies that send their employees for training.
1. Singapore. The Statutes of the Republic of Singapore. (2012 Rev. ed.) Skills Development Levy Act (Cap. 306). Retrieved July 19, 2013, from Singapore Statutes Online: http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;ident=b9a6402b-0aef-414d-a96e-852194a2b698;page=0;query=DocId%3Ab8970d0d-5586-474d-8b17-8d2598624545%20Depth%3A0%20ValidTime%3A19%2F07%2F2013%20TransactionTime%3A19%2F07%2F2013%20Status%3Ainforce;rec=0
2. Joseph, G. (1979, June 26). Govt OKs NWC pay guidelines. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retreived from NewspaperSG.
3. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1979, September 21). Second Reading of the Skills Development Levy Bill (Vol. 39, cols. 464–470). Singapore: [s.n]. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
4. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 21 Sep 1979, Second Reading, Vol. 39, cols. 464–470.
5. Republic of Singapore. Government Gazette. Subsidiary Legislation Supplement. (1979, September 29). The Skills Development Levy Act (Commencement) Notification 1979, (S 206/1979, p. 479). Singapore: Government Printing Office. Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SGGSLS.
6. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1979, September 7). First Reading of the Skills Development Levy Bill (Vol. 39, cols. 390–394). Singapore: [s.n]. Call no.: RCLOS 328.5957 SIN.
7. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report, 21 Sep 1979, Second Reading, Vol. 39, cols. 464–470; Skills Development Council. (1979). Skills Development Fund, Singapore: Guidelines for applicants. Singapore: The Council. Call no.: RCLOS 658.31243095957 SKI.
8. Pang, J. (1999, November 22). SDF gears up for push towards knowledge-based economy. The Business Times, p. 9; Sung, J. (2006). Explaining the economic success of Singapore: The developmental worker as the missing link (pp. 60–61). Cheltenham, U.K.; Northampton, Mass.: Edward Elgar. Call no.: RSING 338.95957 SUN.
9. Ministry of Manpower. (2012). Skills Employment Levy. Retrieved July 19, 2013, from the Ministry of Manpower’s website: http://www.mom.gov.sg/skills-training-and-development/adult-and-continuing-education/Pages/sdl.aspx
The information in this article is valid as at 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.