SINGAPORE- Full-time national servicemen (NSF) will get free unlimited access to more than 75,000 online courses from Nov 1 to better prepare them for work or further studies after national service (NS).
NSFs can sign up anytime during NS and their account will be valid for two years.
They can choose courses from about 135 categories that will be made available on the online learning platform.
These include courses like Python Machine Learning used for software coding, management skills training and digital photography courses.
There are also some courses that will lead to credit exemptions for several programmes at institutes of higher learning like polytechnics and universities.
The new initiative is the result of a tie-up between the Defence Ministry (Mindef) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), with NTUC LearningHub and the NTUC Employment and Employability Institute or e2i.
Called the SkillsFuture@NS Learning eXperience Platform, it will replace the existing Electronic Pre-Release Employment Programme (e-Prep), which was introduced in 2003 and offered 3,000 courses.
e-Prep also allowed only a fixed amount of credits for NSFs to use, capped at $350, and made available in the last 12 months of full-time NS - for use up to one year after a serviceman becomes operationally ready.
NSF Tan Aik Chong, 20, who enlisted in January last year, said he is looking forward to using the platform to hone his programming skills.
Now a lieutenant with the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), he said he will sign up for courses before he starts school at Nanyang Technological University next year to study computer science.
He said: "In computer science, knowing how to use programming code is important. The new platform helps give me a leg-up and keep up with my peers.
"I'm also happy that I can freely choose what courses I want to do."
In a joint statement, Mindef and MHA said the new initiative will also enable NSFs to create and track their personalised learning journeys, with personalised course recommendations based on their preferred jobs and newly acquired skills.
It will also include an online database of resources and information from government agencies, industry partners, and private education institutes.
It will include, for instance, information on career and education fairs held by NTUC LearningHub partners or education institutions, and workshops organised by e2i, which NSFs can choose to attend.
There will also be SkillsFuture@NS career and education fairs held about four times a year for NSFs serving out the last three to six months of full-time NS.
The new NS fairs - previously known as the Enhanced Career and Education Fairs - will also be expanded to include a wider range of prospective employers and education institutes.
NTUC LearningHub will curate the list of participating employers and education institutes based on the needs of NSFs and labour market trends.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, about 4,000 NSFs from the Singapore Armed Forces, SCDF, and Singapore Police Force attended the SkillsFuture@NS fair, which was held at the Devan Nair Institute.
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said the new initiative underscored the importance of supporting NSFs in their transition to school or the workplace.
He said: "What we are trying to do is to create a platform that will be able to service and support all of our NSFs.
"It can potentially be of great value to all our servicemen on a lifelong-basis in the areas of skills-upgrading, understanding the job market, seeking for work and training."