Applications for SkillsFuture grants open

Office workers in the central business district. More than 500 cash grants are up for grabs for Singaporean workers who want to deepen their skills.
Office workers in the central business district. More than 500 cash grants are up for grabs for Singaporean workers who want to deepen their skills.PHOTO: ST FIL

More than 500 cash grants are up for grabs for Singaporean workers who want to deepen their skills in areas as diverse as fashion technology, mechanical engineering, and pastry and baking.

Applications for the first phase of the SkillsFuture Study Awards opened yesterday, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) said.

The awards, worth $5,000 each, are given out by the Government to young and mid-career workers looking to upgrade their skills.

The first eight sectors which are ready to receive applications are construction, aviation, international enterprise, maritime, financial services, social services, food and beverage, and retail.

The awards are meant to subsidise workers' course fees, while also helping employers save on training costs.

An award recipient could, for instance, use the grant to fund a specialist diploma in cyber-security management, or a doctorate in aviation. Up to 2,000 awards will be made available each year.

The awards, for which applicants must have at least three years of work experience in the relevant sector, are bond-free and can be used on top of existing government course subsidies.

Mrs Sarah Tham, associate director of engineering contractor DLE, said she will be encouraging three employees to apply for the awards, so that they can get specialist diplomas in mechanical engineering.

She added that while the company has previously paid for staff to go for these courses, they have required them to be bonded to the company for two to three years.

Now they can use the award to pay for themselves, she said, adding: "It incentivises them to go for further upgrading."

Restaurant group Suki plans to nominate its restaurant managers for the grants, rotating staff between outlets to cover for those taking time out for training.

Assistant vice-president of operations, Mr Tan Boon Lock, said: "What our staff learn at outlets is passed-down knowledge. These courses can teach them how to develop their skills in leadership. A diploma in F&B management is No. 1 on the list of what we want them to get."

APL ship engineer Wang Yingqiang, 24, hopes an award can help him to obtain a master's in maritime technology.

"The award can help to alleviate my financial burden. That way, I can focus on doing my job well."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Applications for SkillsFuture grants open'. Print Edition | Subscribe