SkillsFuture is a national movement that kicked off in January last year, and it aims to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential, regardless of their starting points.
This is only one part of the Government’s plan to get Singaporeans to embark on a journey of lifelong learning.
The Government has set aside more than $1 billion for this scheme, giving 2.5 million Singaporeans aged 25 and above, $500 in credits to spend on upgrading themselves.
Singaporeans can use this to fund work-skills related courses from the Workforce Development Authority, Ministry of Education, and other public agencies.
“Whether you are a graduate or someone with a master’s degree, or you started work straight after leaving school, it does not matter,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the launch of the first SkilllsFuture roadshow series.
“SkillsFuture empowers all of us to go further. And to renew ourselves as we go through life,” he added.
Courses eligible for the scheme rose steadily from more than 10,000 at the start to over 18,000 today – covering areas such as digital animation, finance, and languages.
It is also noted that the five popular areas of training are information and communications, security and investigation, personal development, food and beverage, and language skills.
Are Singaporeans Taking Advantage Of This Scheme?
According to an article by The New Paper, more than 126,000 Singaporeans used the SkillsFuture credit scheme in its first year. This means that only about 5 per cent of those eligible signed up, indicating a lukewarm response to the scheme.
While this figure seems modest, National University of Singapore economics lecturer, Kelvin Seah, finds the take-up rate “encouraging”.
“It shows that Singaporeans are not rushing to use the credits in an imprudent manner, but are looking to use them when the need for skills acquisition arises,” he added.
However, in an update earlier this year, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) said majority (about 63%) of those who tapped on the credits last year were aged 40 years and older – so what about the young Singaporeans?
A quick poll conducted among my friends and colleagues – who are all in their twenties – said that while they have yet to take advantage of the scheme, they have absolute plans to do so in the future.
Generally, they intend to take up courses that will help them in their line of work such as video-editing and coding.
In line with this sentiment, SSG chief executive Ng Cher Pong commented that there is no rush for Singaporeans to use it as the scheme was designed such that the credits do not expire and will be topped up at various intervals, so they can be accumulated for more expensive courses.
“People might be taking a wait-and-see attitude, anticipating that the list of courses offered will only increase with time,” he reasoned.
He also urged Singaporeans to think carefully and not spend the credits on any course that comes first to mind.
SkillsFuture Actually Increases Employability
However, among the young Singaporeans who have taken up the scheme, Jeraldine Phneah is an example who used it to increase her employability.
The 25-year-old decided to take up a Malay language class so as she would “stand out” amongst other candidates when she was job-hunting last year.
“When I was looking for jobs in business development and account management, I found that many of the job descriptions mentioned that it would be advantageous if the candidate could speak another Asian language such as Bahasa Melayu, Vietnamese, Thai, or Cantonese. This is because many companies set up their Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore and are targeting clients from neighbouring markets,” she wrote in her blog post.
“Since we have many young graduates from Southeast Asian markets coming to Singapore, I hope to also equip myself with a strong grasp of one additional language to better compete with them and stand out in the job market.”
Continuous education and training remain core to our society and economy today and for the future.
With the fast pace of technological advancements and stronger global competition for jobs, skills upgrading and deepening are essential for Singaporeans to maintain a competitive edge.
As our economy restructures and companies find ways to innovate and enhance productivity, the demand for higher-skilled workers will also increase.
Given these trends, the workplace must be a major site of learning, where every Singaporean is able to continue to develop themselves throughout their careers and through life.
Have you benefited from, or used your SkillsFuture Credits? Share your thoughts with us!
Featured Image Credit: British Council