Change is uncomfortable but necessary for growth. Although emerging technologies have disrupted many jobs, they have also opened up new careers that didn’t exist before. When doctors now enter medical school, they are told that much of what they learn will be obsolete within a few years of graduation. The rate of change in this world is accelerating, and everything we know or are comfortable with has a shorter “expiration date”. These are just the circumstances we live in today, whether we like it or not. And although we may have already finished our formal education and started our careers, we now need to become lifetime learners, acquiring new skills while we are still gainfully employed. This allows us to remain relevant despite the widening digital divide and rapidly changing employment landscape.
This is why the government implemented SkillsFuture. They aim to create a conducive environment for upskilling, capabilities building, and continuous mastery. They want to enable workers to adapt, progress, and “disrupt themselves”. As Minister of State Chan Chun Sing said in the last May Day Rally, “Whichever country can get this right will help its people the most. Those who cannot solve these challenges will have a lot of problems, from socio-economic to others.”
What is the SkillsFuture Credit?
All Singaporeans (citizens) age 25 and above will get $500 to pay for education or training of their choice. This credit does not expire. The government will also periodically top up the account. For example, I was told by someone at Cairnhill CC that some many people who fully exhausted the credit in the first year of the credit (2016), were given another $500 at the beginning of this year.
What Type of Courses Qualify for SkillsFuture?
Any kind of approved specialised professional training, soft skills development, or even the acquisition of a new interest or hobby. Training courses can be from a local training provider, an Institute for Higher Learning, or a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) . There are over 18,000 training courses eligible for the credit. For a list of approved SkillsFuture courses, please click here.
How do you Use the Credit?
For local training providers, the SkillsFuture payments will be disbursed directly to the providers. The individual will need to pay any remaining balance. For overseas MOOCs, individuals will first need to pay the provider, and then submit a SkillsFuture claim to be reimbursed.
Can You Get More than $500?
Yes. Besides the SkillsFuture Credit, there are other benefits to apply for, such as SkillsFuture Fellowships, SkillsFuture Study Awards, and the SkillsFuture Earn & Learn Programme. This Straits Times infographic from 27 Feb 2015 sumarises the various SkillsFuture components and groups them according to a person’s life stage.
What are Some Popular, Trendy, or Interesting Courses?
- Big Data Analytics by Nanyang Polytechnic – $1,326
- Digital Photography by Ngee Ann Polytechnic – $340
- Career Success by Coursera (online) – $350
- Computer Hacker and Forensic Investigator Training by Udmey (online) – $170
- Culinary Techniques in Bread Baking by SkillsHQ Academy Pte. Ltd. – $240
- Adobe Illustrator Fundamentals by Institute of Technical Education – $240
- Fitness Instructor Course – Republic Polytechnic – $820
- Apply and Supervise Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Policies and Procedures 1 by Tsao Foundation – $198
- Fundamentals Certificate in Early Childhood Care & Education by Association for Early Childhood Educators – $1,650
- WSQ Sales: Turning Opportunities into Profit by Everest Innovation Pte. Ltd. – $500
- Applied Financial Planning with Excel by [email protected] – $150
- Basic Dim Sum Making by [email protected] – $30
- Selling Online by [email protected] – $30
- Basic Conversational Japanese by [email protected] – $160
In my search, I found that the more affordable courses are those offered by MOOCS and by the People’s Association. Also, within the same subject matter, I found a variety of training providers and a wide range of prices. So as with most things, you should shop around and read reviews.
If you don’t learn, you don’t grow. And as the saying goes, if you don’t grow, you die. We live in a time when collective human knowledge is doubling at a faster and faster rate. Researcher David Russell Schilling estimated that nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every 2 years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. On average, human knowledge is reported to be doubling every 13 months. And IBM predicts the “internet of things” will eventually lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours! To avoid being left behind, don’t wait until you lose your job to start learning.
So remain curious. And keep learning. 🙂