Why It Matters

SkillsFuture Credit booster an all-round win

Every Singaporean aged 25 or more just got $500 richer, courtesy of the Government, under the SkillsFuture Credit scheme.

The money is for skills upgrading courses, and there is a website to help recipients pick the right course. The unprecedented move costing a whopping $1 billion takes personal skills upgrading to a whole new level. It puts the responsibility and means of self-improvement in the hands of workers.

Cynics may scoff, saying that the $500 is not cash but credit. But credit ensures proper use, and there are further benefits in the credit extended.

One, the credit does not expire and it can be accumulated when there are future top-ups. There is no need to rush to spend the $500.

Two, the Government has taken an unusually broad approach in picking the courses - there is a growing list of 10,000 courses in 57 areas such as languages and infocomm technology.

Sure, you cannot use the money for a spa treatment or to learn yoga, but you can sign up for a fitness instructor course run by Republic Polytechnic or a face and body waxing course run by the Singapore Spa Institute.

Three, savvy workers can use the $500 for courses that are subsidised 90 per cent or $4,500, effectively allowing them to take $5,000 of courses without having to fork out their own money.

Security guards who learn to handle security equipment, for example, can get a pay hike when they perform more complex duties. It means higher earnings in the long run.

It is not just workers who benefit. Companies will have the flexibility of combining their training resources with their workers' credits to maximise the impact of training.

And, as an economy, having better trained workers gives the sputtering productivity drive a much needed shot in the arm.

Overall, the scheme is an all-round win for workers, employers and the economy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2016, with the headline 'SkillsFuture Credit booster'. Print Edition | Subscribe