Forum: Periodic SkillsFuture Credit top-ups will spur lifelong learning

In his New Year's Day message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong assured Singaporeans that "pathways of progress are open to all, and every Singaporean can chase his or her dreams" (S'pore must stay open to world, learn from history: PM Lee, Jan 1).

PM Lee rightly urges all Singaporeans to turn outwards even in a global slowdown that has affected the economy.

Things could only get worse with the increase in transport fares and electricity tariffs, and the upcoming goods and services tax hike. But PM Lee has assuaged our fears of the rising cost of living with measures that would be announced in this year's Budget, one of which is retraining for everyone, especially PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians).

Introduced in 2015, the $500 SkillsFuture Credit to get all Singaporeans to upgrade their skills looks like a one-off grant rather than one that encourages continuous career development.

On the SkillsFuture website, the $500 is described as an opening credit and that the Government will provide periodic top-ups.

However, since its introduction five years ago, there has not been another top-up.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat rightly recognises that workers require new skills and would need to undergo retraining.

To achieve this, it would benefit Singaporeans to get top-ups of the SkillsFuture Credit, so that they can be accumulated over the years rather than be a one-off thing.

After all, the call is for Singaporeans to constantly upgrade themselves, but not everyone can afford to do that.

Sundram Muthiah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2020, with the headline 'Periodic SkillsFuture Credit top-ups will spur lifelong learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe