Use SkillsFuture Credit for classes, seniors urged

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say (centre) trying out a selfie stick at the Bedok Community Club event yesterday.
Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say (centre) trying out a selfie stick at the Bedok Community Club event yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Older Singaporeans can use their $500 SkillsFuture Credit to pay for "life-ready" classes, such as those on using Whatsapp and Facebook, at community clubs.

"Life in the smart nation can be quite different from the living environment today," said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say at a grassroots event at Bedok Community Club yesterday.

He urged older residents to use their credit to learn how to remain connected in an increasingly technological society so "they would not be excluded from the Smart Nation initiative", referring to Singapore's push to use the latest technology to benefit the country.

So far, more than 1,000 residents have signed up for classes at 15 clubs since the SkillsFuture Credit scheme kicked in earlier this month. Participants can choose from courses in areas such as IT, fashion and languages.

Seniors aged 50 and above, after receiving subsidies, need to pay fees starting from only $10, for some courses.

Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say urged older residents to use their credit to learn how to remain connected in an increasingly technological society so "they would not be excluded from the Smart Nation initiative".

At the event yesterday, residents learnt how to use their credit to sign up for classes, of which there are more than 200 available.

Attendees also heard from three participants how taking part in classes can help them keep their minds active, earn pocket money and stay socially connected.

"We have to help the elderly appreciate the usefulness and relevance of SkillsFuture," Mr Lim said. "It cannot be too abstract for them." Response has been encouraging so far, he added.

He reminded the elderly to spread the word among their friends and promised that efforts will be made to "bring the message to the community in a way they can relate and understand". He spoke in a mix of English and Mandarin yesterday to cater to the elderly.

The SkillsFuture Credit scheme, which gives more than two million Singaporeans $500 each to pay for skills-based courses, was part of Budget measures announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam last February.

"We want to make sure that SkillsFuture will indeed be turned into a national movement for all ages of residents," said Mr Lim.

Retiree Phua Ah Moy, 66, is happy she can use her credit to pay for the classes she intends to take. "I want to learn how to do a proper massage... so I can help others who are suffering from aches," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline 'Use SkillsFuture Credit for classes, seniors urged'. Print Edition | Subscribe