Singaporeans need to take skills upgrading into their own hands, said Acting Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung.
He announced yesterday that all Singaporeans aged 25 and above will receive $500 worth of SkillsFuture Credit from Jan 1 next year, and can use it for a range of about 10,000 courses.
Speaking at the Lifelong Learning Festival, he said: "SkillsFuture Credit is not meant to be just a monetary grant, but is also a clear signal that each of us is empowered and needs to take charge of our own skills advancement," he said.
More than two million Singaporeans next year will get the initial SkillsFuture Credit of $500, which is administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and can be used for Government-approved courses in 57 areas.
The Government has set aside more than $1 billion so far to fund the scheme.
BEYOND ACADEMIC SKILLS
I have academic skills, but I want to be able to motivate my students and help them in other ways.
MEDIA LECTURER MUHD FUADI RAHMAT, on a youth development course
EXPANDING JOB OPTIONS
For me, it's about staying employable and enriching myself Then more opportunities will open up in my career.
ASSISTANT HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGER LYNN LOH, on studying data management
The subjects on offer range from Chinese restaurant cooking to 3D animation at LaSalle College of the Arts to a master's in nursing.
More details on the 10,000 courses will be available through an online course directory, which will be launched on Nov 20.
First announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam when he presented the Budget in February, the SkillsFuture Credit is meant to support Singaporeans in their pursuit of lifelong learning.
Singaporeans will receive a letter in January about their SkillsFuture Credit account activation.
The credit, which does not expire, will be periodically topped up and can be used on top of other government subsidies.
Singaporeans need not choose only courses relevant to their current job or industry, in case they should want to explore a career switch.
A WDA spokesman said: "The SkillsFuture Credit does not restrict the individual from choosing the type of course that he or she is interested to take up. The key is that SkillsFuture Credit empowers the individual to choose according to his or her aspiration."
She added that the age limit for the credit is meant to target Singaporeans who have completed their full-time education and are already in the workforce.
Those younger than 25 but who want to get a head start in skills upgrading can look to other SkillsFuture initiatives, such as the Earn and Learn Programme for fresh graduates from polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education.
Initiatives to promote learning
At the two-day Lifelong Learning Festival yesterday, some new initiatives were launched to promote continuous learning:
LEARNSG SEED FUND
A $3 million fund that invites individuals and groups to submit proposals from next year for community-led projects to promote learning. These could include making a video or organising a learning festival.
A hands-on initiative for children and adults to learn through play, which will see pop-up booths spring up across the island, with activities such as building small solar cars.
An online portal, www.learnnow.sg, that offers interactive bite-size learning modules on subjects such as food and wine pairing and CPR life-saving.
Media lecturer Muhd Fuadi Rahmat is eager to receive his credit, which he hopes to use for a course on youth development and counselling.
"I have academic skills, but I want to be able to motivate my students and help them in other ways," said the 48-year-old, who teaches at the Management Development Institute of Singapore.
Assistant human resource manager Lynn Loh, 42, has her eye on a data management course as she wants to stay on top of new IT developments in her field.
"For me, it's about staying employable and enriching myself," she said. "Then more opportunities will open up in my career."