Want to Learn New Skills? Get to Know These Subsidies
In his Harvard commencement speech in May, Mark Zuckerberg warned students to address automation’s impact on employment head on. This advice is not just timely for students, but also for all of us in the workforce.
Many industries are seeing rapid technological advancements, and there could come a time when your job is replaced by a robot.
There has never been a better, and more important time to learn new skills and develop existing ones. The Government never gives out anything for free, so when they do, such as with the SkillsFuture credit, you know that it’s something you need to pay attention to.
If you’ve always believed that an ‘old dog cannot learn new tricks’, it’s about time to dispel the myth and start making full use of subsidies to pick up new skills.
Why learning is urgent
Ever heard of the 4th Industrial Revolution? It’s happening now, where the lines between the physical and digital world are blurred and machines are able to make many decisions and not just execute them. This may be a very exciting era to be in, or a terrifying one, depending on your willingness to learn and adapt quickly.
It’s not just the threat of robots that should spur you on to learn. If you’re in the middle of your career, you may be managing a team of subordinates that are highly skilled in new technologies. To be an effective team leader or manager, you may not need to acquire the specific skills that they have, but at the very least, you need to have a good understanding of what they’re doing in order to harness their skills.
Rather than approach technology advancement with trepidation, one should look on how “humans” can offer something that technology cannot.
Another aspect of the 4th Industrial Revolution is that ‘humanness’ becomes even more valued. With machines to do all the work, people now have more time to be creative and to be more ‘human’. If you’ve always struggled with technology and are better with your artistic endeavors, perhaps there is no better time to go with rather than against your grain.
1) What is SkillsFuture Credit?
SkillsFuture Credit is a programme founded by the Singapore government to encourage skills development and lifelong learning.
All Singaporeans aged 25 and above would receive a S$500 SkillsFuture Credit. This credit does not expire and the government will provide top-ups periodically, so if nothing piques your interest now, you can choose to wait and accumulate your credit to pay for a higher-value course.
How can you use SkillsFuture Credit?
You can use your SkillsFuture credit to pay for or offset skills related course fees by applying for claim(s). The courses you can claim for are:
- Subsidised or approved by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG)
- Courses offered by the Ministry of Education funded institutions
- Courses supported by public agencies
- SkillsFuture@PA courses offered by the People’s Association
- Courses offered by the Infocommunications Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA)’s Silver Infocomm Junctions
- Selected courses under National Silver Academy
There is a wide range of courses to choose from, ranging from Big Data Analytics to Sewing, Baking, Investment, and Photography. You can also take courses from Coursera, which offers certified online courses from top universities from around the world.
Image source: SkillsFuture
Learn how you can register for a SkillsFuture account and submit a claim.
2. What are SkillsFuture Study Awards?
The SkillsFuture Study Awards is meant for early to mid-career Singaporeans who want to develop specialist skills and competencies in specific sectors.
The government aims to give up to 2,000 study awards annually. The award amount is S$5,000 and about 30 sectors are listed.
How can you use SkillsFuture Awards?
The best thing about the award is, applicants would not be required to serve a bond and it can be used on top of existing government course fee subsidies.
Depending on the sector that you are applying in, you may need to get your employer to nominate you.
Here’s how you can use your SkillsFuture Award:
|Step 1||Fill up the online application form or download the form from SkillsFuture website. Submit the completed form on the portal.|
|Step 2||Submit the required supporting documents to the specified email address according to the industry/sector.
The supporting documents required are typically as follow:
• Scanned coloured copy of IC (front and back)
• Scanned photocopy of Letter of Offer/Matriculation from the institution
• PDF of information on selected course of study
• A document showing the start and end date of the course (dd/mm/yy). This can be a student contract, the school academic calendar or a letter from school;
• Information of any government subsidies/sponsorship amounts received
The application is on the first-come, first-served basis, and different sectors have different application deadlines. Evaluation of applications would take up to at least eight weeks upon receipt of all documents/information.
3. What is SkillsFuture Fellowship?
The Fellowship option is open to Singaporeans who are experienced (i.e. not early career) and already have well-developed professional and technical skills in their industry. There were up to 30 awards given out in 2017.
In addition to that, applicants must also show a commitment to the continuation of their career development and learning, as well as a desire to help develop the skillset amongst peers.
You need at least 10 years of work experience in the same industry or job function to apply. The award sum is S$10,000, which will help offset about a third of some of the one-year Masters programme in NUS or NTU.
Lifelong Learning at National University of Singapore
This is truly an opportunity not to be missed. The National University of Singapore is offering 140 courses to its alumni over the next three years and course fees are waived. All you have to do is to pay the student service fee of S$261.85 per semester in the second and third year. The course fees usually cost S$3000 to S$3500 per module, so this is indeed a very generous offer if you are lucky enough to be an alumnus of NUS.
You can take up to two modules in three years, and many of the modules offered are very much geared towards the STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects, such as Tech Launch- Experiential Entrepreneurship from the Faculty of Engineering.
If you are eligible and are keen to study a module, be sure to sign up as spaces allotted to alumni are limited to 10% of the class and given on a first-come first-served basis.
In addition to the above options that allow you to acquire a broad range of skills, there are also subsidies that are available for those who are able and willing to commit considerable time and effort to further their studies and obtain certification up to the postgraduate level.
For example, the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy will support individuals by subsidising up to 90% of the course fees for over 8,000 courses and at least 90% for MOE-subsidised full or part-time courses.
With these many options, the financial cost of upgrading and reskilling is less of a constraint. All you need to do now is to set aside time and commit to learning new skills and deepening current ones.
On a side note, for those who need that extra income while learning, having side income jobs can be really helpful.