Committeeof Supply debate: Ministry of Education

18,000 use SkillsFuture Credit in 3 months

Visitors checking out the various courses available at the inaugural SkillsFuture roadshow at Westgate mall on Jan 9, 2016.
Visitors checking out the various courses available at the inaugural SkillsFuture roadshow at Westgate mall on Jan 9, 2016. PHOTO: ST FILE

A government programme that gives every Singaporean aged 25 and older $500 credit to pay for skills courses has got off to a "healthy'' start, said Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung yesterday.

He disclosed that more than 18,000 people have tapped it the first three months of this year, using about $5.2 million.

"This is a healthy number - not a mad rush, yet a good response," he said in his parliamentary reply to Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) and Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC).

The SkillsFuture Credit scheme, for Singaporeans to improve themselves, was introduced in January for more than two million people. It is part of the Government's plan to get Singaporeans thinking about lifelong learning.

Mr Ong said it sends an important message that "each of us is in charge of our own pursuit of mastery and learning throughout our lives".

About 51.5 per cent of the people who have used their credits are aged 40 and older, according to the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Mr Ong said the list of courses eligible for SkillsFuture Credit will be expanded. Currently, it has more than 12,500 courses, about 2,500 more than in January. They range from baking to financial literacy.

He also said the MOE and Ministry of Social and Family Development will jointly review the scheme to see how it can help people with disabilities learn skills, said Mr Ong.

The MOE is also ramping up the Earn and Learn Programme, a dual-track approach in which polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students work while they study.

Mr Ong said the ministry will introduce a path this year for ITE graduates on the programme to get a part-time polytechnic diploma. This will apply to those studying air transport.

"With this pathway, ITE graduates... can focus on upgrading their skills to do a better job, without rushing to get a paper qualification for its own sake," he said.

Currently, they will get an industry-recognised certificate like the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications when they complete the work-study programme.

MOE said in a statement that new Earn and Learn programmes will be launched this year in areas such as healthcare and maritime, to give polytechnic and ITE graduates more choices.

At the same time, a credit exemption scheme will start for some Earn and Learn graduates of two polytechnics to pursue a degree.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline '18,000 use SkillsFuture Credit in 3 months'. Print Edition | Subscribe