We are constantly being fed the message that it’s our responsibility to upgrade our skills and make sure we don’t become obsolete. If our careers stagnate or we get retrenched, the onus is on us to ensure that we become employable again.The SkillsFuture initiative is a key feature of the government’s attempt to make lifelong upgrading a thing amongst Singaporeans. Otherwise, there’s always an alternative career as an Uber driver… or not.
Any Singaporean who follows local news should know that all citizens aged 25 and above have been given $500 worth of SkillsFuture credits. Free money! But many have no idea how it can actually be used.
By the end of this article you’ll know how taking SkillsFuture courses can be relevant to your own career, and how you can go about using those credits.
What is SkillsFuture?
SkillsFuture isn’t just about the credits. The SkillsFuture initiative is actually a very broad series of programmes aimed at everyone from students to working adults and employers.
Here are the SkillsFuture programmes which are available at the moment.
Who is it aimed at?
What is it?
Poly and ITE students
Enables students to embark on internships that are better organised to give them meaningful industry experience.
Short, industry-relevant training programmes in some of the hottest industries today, such as data analytics, finance, tech-enabled services and digital media.
Online portal that enables Singaporeans to better organise their education and training plans.
SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programme
Fresh grads from ITE and poly, and employers
Enables fresh grads to undergo structured on-the-job training. Also subsidises employers to incentivise them to offer these programmes.
SkillsFuture Work-Study Degree Programmes
Provides an on-the-job training programme with partner companies.
TechSkills Accelerator (TeSa)
Fresh grads in ICT and existing and aspiring ICT professionals.
Offers programmes aimed at ICT and non-ICT professionals to help them gain crucial skills needed in the digital space. This is further split into seven programmes which include a Study Award and Company-Led Training Programme.
Young Talent Programme
Local uni and poly students
Enables students to get overseas work experience while receiving an allowance.
SkillsFuture Study Awards
Early- and mid-career workers
Offers a monetary award of $5,000 to workers who hope to deepen skills needed in future economic growth sectors or areas of demand.
Education and Career Guidance
Secondary school students
Counsellors offer students advice on their education and career options.
SMEs and PMEs
Helps hiring SMEs screen and match suitable PMEs looking for jobs, trains the SMEs in HR, communication and how to work their new PMEs, and offers them a $5,000 grant for successfully completing the programme.
SkillsFuture Career Advisors Programme
Career counselling service from industry veterans.
Singaporeans aged 25 and above at any stage in their career
$500 worth of credit that can be used on SkillsFuture-approved education and training courses.
Programmes and workshops to promote career planning and skills upgrading.
SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace
Working adults or those returning to the workforce, and employers
Targeted at workers and employers to help them understand emerging technologies and deal with technological changes in the workplace.
Working adults and employers
Database which provides key information on sectors and employment, career pathways, occupations and job roles and skills required for jobs. Also provides list of training programmes.
SkillsFuture Qualification Award
Rewards Singaporean workers for attaining WSQ qualifications with a cash awards.
Award aimed at recognising workers with at least 10 years of experience.
SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy
Workers aged 40 and above
Subsidises up to 90% of SkillsFuture-approved course fees.
Trains businesses and individuals who wish to use innovation for learning design, development and delivery of blended learning.
SkillsFuture Employer Awards
Award aimed at recognising employers who have made significant efforts in investing in employees’ skills development and built a lifelong learning culture at work.
SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative
Helps employers to create or enhance in-house programmes to groom leaders.
SkillsFuture SME Mentors
Provides mentors that can help SMEs improve in offering career development and growth opportunities to their employees.
Training and Adult Education Sector Transformation Plan (TAESTP)
Providers and professionals in the training and adult education sector
Identifies key focal areas and offers recommendations for TAE providers hoping to leverage SkillsFuture to offer Singaporeans education and training programmes.
As you can see, there’s a whole boatload of courses, and if you’ve tried accessing the government’s SkillsFuture website at some point in the last two years, you might have gotten confused.
What most early- and mid-career working adults are interested in is the SkillsFuture Credit scheme, which aims to encourage Singaporeans to pursue education, training and upgrading courses on their own.
To this end, the government has given every Singaporeans SkillsFuture credits. This credit can be spent on SkillsFuture-approved education and training courses.
The range of courses on offer is very wide, and there’s also a huge variety of course providers, from educational institutions like local universities, polytechnics and ITEs to online course providers like Udemy.
How much SkillsFuture credits do we get?
Beginning in January 2016, every Singaporean aged 25 and above has been bestowed with $500 worth of SkillsFuture credits.
This is a one-time deposit, but the government has promised that they will make top ups of SkillsFuture credits at regular intervals in the future. SkillsFuture credits never expire, so you can save up your credits or wait for top-ups so you can use them on more expensive courses.
Of course, $500 doesn’t really go very far, and you’ll notice that many SkillsFuture-approved courses cost a lot more than that. The balance will, of course, have to be paid by the individual.
How to claim SkillsFuture credits?
To submit a claim, you must already have applied for enrolment in a course and been issued an official invoice or receipt by the training provider. You can do this before your course starts.
Here’s how to apply to use your SkillsFuture credits:
1) Log into your SkillsFuture Credit Account using your SingPass.
2) Once logged in, you’ll see a button labelled “Submit a Claim”.
3) If this is your first time submitting a claim, you will be prompted to first complete your profile. You will be required to enter your contact, education and employment information.
4) Once you’ve updated your profile, click on “Select a Course”. You will need to search for and select your course in the SkillsFuture database.
5) Fill in the rest of the online form, indicating how much of your SkillsFuture credit you wish to use.
6) Upload supporting documents, which should be an official receipt, invoice or other proof of course fees.
7) Submit the form.
SkillsFuture will pay the amount you have indicated directly to your course provider. You can check on the status of your claim by logging back into your SkillsFuture Credit Account at any time.
How to find SkillsFuture courses?
Okay, so it’s all find and dandy to know you’ve got $500 worth of SkillsFuture credits sitting in an account somewhere. But what can you actually use it on?
The government’s SkillsFuture website is admittedly not the most user-friendly or the easiest to navigate.
Bypass all the confusing pages bombarding you with information to their Training Exchange page. This is where you will find listings of all the SkillsFuture-approved courses you can spend your credits on.
Using the search bar, you can filter your courses according to area of training, SkillsFuture series, supporting public agencies, trading providers or training provider types.
When you click into each course’s individual page, you’ll get the following useful information:
- Price: This is how much the course costs. Note that the website usually lists FULL FEE prices. However, some courses, such as courses approved by WSG (Workforce Singapore) as WSQ (Workforce Skills Qualifications), may be heavily subsidised subject to certain conditions. So always check the course provider’s website to see if you’re eligible for subsidies.
- Eligible claim period: You don’t want to take a course that’s not yet or no longer eligible for claims. So make sure the period when you’re planning to take the course falls within the eligible claim period.
- Training duration: Some courses are just a few hours long while others can literally take years.
- Mode of training: Full-time or part-time? If you’re a full-time working adult who can’t afford to take time off work, you’ll have to opt for part-time.
- Course language: While most courses are conducted in English, there are some conducted in Mandarin or Malay. Don’t go and sign up for a course in a language you don’t speak.
- Minimum qualification required: You’ll have to satisfy the prerequisites, if any, which could range from educational qualifications to industry experience.
- Job level: Is it for early-career or mid-career hires?
There’s an almost infinite number of courses you can pay for using your SkillsFuture credits, so it’s obviously impossible to include an exhaustive list here. But if you’re wondering what you can use your credits on, here are some courses that caught our eye.
Basic Practical Accounting101 by ACC Pro (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. – Don’t have a finance background but need to deal with balance sheets at work? This one-day crash course in accounting will teach you enough to get by.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Primerby RESX Pte. Ltd. – Cryptocurrency is one of the “it” sectors at the moment. This 1-day course will teach you enough to understand basic blockchain and cryptocurrency concepts.
Digital Marketing Strategy Courseby Equinet Academy Private Limited – Digital marketing skills are indispensable for anyone in marketing and advertising. This two-day course will teach you enough to create basic digital marketing strategies and to know what the most common tools are.
#1 E-Learning – HTML5 & CSS3 Fundamentalby Otgoskills Private Limited – Even if you’re not a web developer, you might occasionally find yourself having to make basic website modifications. This one-day course will give you a working knowledge of HTML5 and CSS3, which are the building blocks of websites, and enable you to build simple sites or make basic modifications on an existing site.
Python for Data Science by SLE-PDS– Obviously, a 14-hour course is not going to make a data scientist out of you. But if you’ve already got some tech skills and want an introduction to how to use Python to manipulate, model and visualise data, this course might help.
Professional Certificate in Project Managementby Temasek Polytechnic and Institution of Engineers Singapore – Tired of doing the technical work and want to become a project manager instead? In addition to asking your employer to gradually expand your job scope, taking this 11-day course in project management might help to speed up the transition.
Commercial Contract Law (For Non-legal Professionals)by G&L Chartered Business Consultants Private Limited – Break out into a cold sweat whenever you have to deal with contracts? This 2-day course will help you understand the basic principles behind commercial contracts.
Build Positive Team Relationshipsby Singapore National Employers Federation – Managing people well and creating cohesive teams is crucial to lowering employee turnover and improving workplace productivity. This 2-day course might help you become a more effective team leader.
How to apply for SkillsFuture courses?
While the SkillsFuture website provides listings of SkillsFuture courses, to enrol and check for information such as location of the course and dates, you’ll need to contact the course provider directly.
Click on the name of the training provider on the SkillsFuture website, and you’ll be led to a page containing information about them, including their website (if any), registered address and phone number.
Your best bet is to access their website (if they have one) for more information, and then to contact them by phone or email to enrol.
Thinking of conducting your own SkillsFuture course?
Are you working for a training provider that runs courses that might benefit Singaporeans’ careers?
Then you might want to check out SkillsConnect. This is an online portal that training organisations can use to certify their training programmes.
If your profile fits the criteria, you might be able to get WSQ accreditation. If not, you can still apply for a non-WSQ profile.
Once your profile has been approved, you’ll be able to apply get your courses listed in the SkillsFuture database, and Singaporeans will be able to use their SkillsFuture credits to pay for them.
Yay, you have now up-skilled! Now what?
So, you’ve taken that course, and now you feel invincible… or, at least, upskilled. What’s next?
Well, the government has already announced that this will not be the last time Singaporeans receive SkillsFuture credit. So continue to look out for courses that might benefit you in the future and that you can pay for with the help of remaining or future SkillsFuture credits.
Of course, if there is a course you think will really benefit you and you’re out of credits, consider asking your employer to sponsor you. If your new skills will benefit the business (and your employer isn’t a scrooge) and the course is a short-term one, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get funding from your employer. In fact, before you enrol and pay using your own SkillsFuture credits, it doesn’t hurt to see if your employer will pay for you instead.
What do you plan to use your SkillsFuture credits on? Tell us in the comments!
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