$500 in SkillsFuture credits, 6 long weekends & more: What you can look forward to in 2016

There are currently 10,801 courses listed on the SkillsFuture website.
There are currently 10,801 courses listed on the SkillsFuture website. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM WDA.GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - With a new year comes new things to look forward to.

What can we expect in 2016? For starters, Singaporeans will get $500 to spend on a range of 10,000 courses to upgrade their skills.

From six long weekends to more CPF savings, here are a few more things happening in 2016:

1. Learn new skills with SkillsFuture

Wondering which courses to sign up for with the $500 worth of SkillsFuture credits that you will receive this month?

Take a look at some suggestions we've listed - there are over 10,000 courses available, ranging from workplace literacy and numeracy to elementary Chinese restaurant cooking, listed on the SkillsFuture website

The credits will not expire and will be periodically topped up by the Government.

2. Six long weekends in 2016


The 11 holidays in 2016 announced by the Ministry of Manpower. 

Fret not if you failed to take advantage of the long New Year's Day weekend - the next one is just around the corner.

The first and second days of Chinese New Year (Feb 8 & 9) fall on Monday and Tuesday, which means a four-day weekend. The other long weekends will occur on Good Friday, Labour Day, Hari Raya Haji and Christmas.

This is one less than the bumper crop of seven long weekends in 2015, but up from an average of five in recent years.

Check out our handy calendar to help you plan for those holidays.

3. More CPF savings


Middle-income Singaporeans are set to benefit from the changes during their working years. PHOTO: ST FILE

Several changes to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme kicked in on Jan 1, which will help workers accumulate more savings for their retirement.

The CPF salary ceiling, the maximum amount of ordinary wages that employee and employer contributions are calculated on, was raised from $5,000 to $6,000.

At least 544,000 CPF members are expected to benefit.

4. Lower electricity bills


Cheaper electricity tariffs translate into more savings for households. PHOTO: ST FILE

Households will have to fork out less in the first three months of the year due to the lower cost of natural gas.

Electricity tariffs will fall by 4.2 per cent, or 0.85 cents per kilowatt hour, Singapore Power said.

This means that a family living in a four-room flat can typically save up to $3.55.

5. Shorter waiting times on NEL during peak hours


Commuters alighting and boarding the train at Dhoby Ghaut station. PHOTO: ST FILE

Good news if you take the North East Line to work or school - SBS Transit will add 34 more trips to the line from Monday (Jan 4) to cater to growing demand.

Twenty-five trains will be in service during the morning peak hours from 7.30am to 9.30am.

The addition of two new trains will improve the average waiting time, with 60 per cent of train trips arriving at intervals of 2.5 minutes.

6. Car-free Sundays in the CBD


The Padang area will form part of a cycling and walking route on car-free Sundays. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Starting from Feb 28, the URA has planned for a car-free Sunday on every last Sunday of the month for the next six months.

The entire area around the Padang, as well as partial sections of Fullerton Road, Shenton Way and Robinson Road, will be closed to form a 4.7km-long cycling and walking route.

Community activities will also be held along the route to encourage the public to get involved.