Please, no marketing gimmicks: SkillsFuture

A SkillsFuture roadshow held by the Workforce Development Agency.
A SkillsFuture roadshow held by the Workforce Development Agency. PHOTO: ST FILE

Training providers offering courses eligible for SkillsFuture credits should not resort to publicity gimmicks such as lucky draws, gifts and vouchers to get people to sign up for their programmes.

They should also refrain from marketing their courses as "free" or "paid for by the Government", and must instead explain how people can use credits or other SkillsFuture subsidies to offset the fees.

These rules are among a new set of guidelines on the appropriate efforts that providers of SkillsFuture Credit-eligible courses can take for publicity, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) said yesterday.

The credit scheme was introduced last January to encourage more than two million adults to pick up new skills, from offering wine advice to developing mobile apps.

In the first eight months of the year, more than 80,000 people signed up for the initiative, which gives Singaporeans aged 25 and up $500 credit to pay for courses.

SSG told The Straits Times that it "monitors closely" how training firms market their courses, taking into account feedback from trainees and the public.

Some organisations and individuals were found to be offering cash to members of the public in exchange for the use of their SkillsFuture credits.

The statutory board has previously alerted the public to errant practices and taken action against training providers who ran afoul of terms and conditions.

Under the new guidelines, which take effect immediately, firms must ensure they do not convey the impression that the use of the credits is limited to a specific provider or courses.

Neither should they ask for confidential details from members of the public, including their SingPass, to make SkillsFuture Credit claims on their behalf.

The scheme is a part of the SkillsFuture drive to get Singaporeans to think about lifelong learning.

Training firms told The Straits Times that incentives such as gifts may "distract" Singaporeans from choosing programmes that are suited to their needs.

Mr Jonathan Lee, general manager at THT Academy - which offers workplace safety and health-related courses - said individuals should pick courses based on personal or professional needs.

He added: "Vouchers and gifts may affect the original intention of the scheme - to help Singaporeans pick up suitable skills.

"It may also lead to providers abusing the scheme. Providers should instead focus on raising the quality of their courses."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2017, with the headline 'Please, no marketing gimmicks: SkillsFuture'. Print Edition | Subscribe