WITH the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would have started preparing Singaporeans 'five, or better still, 10 years earlier' for the challenges of globalisation.

While Singapore has put 'a lot of resources' in education and training, he would have pumped in more - and sooner - to help workers upgrade and train for an era in which knowledge is 'absolutely critical'.

'If we had known how quickly the pace of change would accelerate and how much our people would be under pressure from globalisation... we would have put even more resources in,' Mr Lee said last night.

Singapore, he said, would then 'have less of a problem now of workers catching up'.

While the Continuing Education and Training programme to promote lifelong learning can be traced as far back as 1973, it made inroads in a big way only in recent years, after the Workforce Development Agency was set up in 2003.

Workers and employers alike remain in need of persuasion as to the importance of training.

PM Lee's regret