SkillsFuture scheme: Offset on costs will let him take up more courses

Mr Salleh Ismail hopes a new programme to promote lifelong learning means he will pay less for his part-time degree at National University of Singapore come August.

"It will really help a lot as I want to save money to take up even more courses," said the 51-year-old trainer.

Under the new initiative, all Singaporeans aged 25 and above will receive $500 in SkillsFuture Credit from next year, with more top-ups to come, to offset the cost of upgrading.

Education and training subsidies for Singaporeans aged 40 and above will also be raised, in incentives announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Monday.

Mr Salleh was spurred to upgrade his skills when he was retrenched in early 2010 from his job as a principal engineer in a manufacturing firm after 19 years.

"The job market was gloomy and I had difficulties finding a job because I had a very specific skillset," said Mr Salleh, who had a technical certificate at the time.

So, when he landed a job as a station manager at transport company SMRT in April that year, he jumped at every chance to learn new skills. He requested a job transfer to become a trainer.

Last year, he completed a diploma in engineering at Singapore Polytechnic, graduating with an almost perfect grade point average.

Currently, Mr Salleh, who earns between $4,000 and $4,500, is heading a new division at SMRT to promote e-learning in the company's training curriculum.

Mr Gerard Koh, vice-president of human resources at SMRT, said the new $500 grant could enable staff to attend courses that could boost their careers.

"With SkillsFuture Credit, our staff will be further encouraged to take ownership of their skills development," he said.


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