Letter of the week #3: Regularly top up SkillsFuture Credit

McDonald's employees listening to a presentation on SkillsFuture during the McDonald's Learning Carnival at Our Tampines Hub on Aug 19, 2019.
McDonald's employees listening to a presentation on SkillsFuture during the McDonald's Learning Carnival at Our Tampines Hub on Aug 19, 2019.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Singaporeans have to continually upgrade and reskill to stay longer in the workforce.

The retirement age will go up from 62 to 63 in 2022, and eventually to 65 by 2030 (Round-table on strengthening support for older workers: Retiring. Rehiring. Reskilling, Aug 27).

Currently, the Government subsidises course fees paid by employers under the Workfare Training Support scheme and courses administered by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG).

Since January 2016, the Government has given all Singaporeans aged 25 and above an opening credit of $500 to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skill development and lifelong learning.

According to the SkillsFuture website, the Government will provide periodic top-ups.

Earlier this month, I received my Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment at the Institute for Adult Learning.

With the generous subsidy granted to Singapore citizens and permanent residents, I paid close to nothing after utilising the $500 SkillsFuture Credit.

The $500 credit can also be used for courses approved by SSG, offered or supported by the Ministry of Education, the People's Association, other statutory boards, and public agencies and institutes of higher learning.

The $500 credit is inadequate to fund life-long learning.

There has not been any top-up since 2016 despite calls from many bodies, including the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC hopes for SkillsFuture Credit top-up in Budget 2019, Feb 2).

As an adjunct trainer at two local institutes of learning, I hope to see more Singaporeans attending skills courses and upgrading themselves so that they can be more effective and productive in their workplaces.

Periodic top-ups of SkillsFuture Credit, preferably every year, should be done. To ensure that it is used effectively, the top-ups can be given only to those who have used up their balance within 12 months to 24 months of the last top-up.

Ee Teck Siew