If you want to undertake a SkillsFuture course, you must first know what SkillsFuture is and the benefits of the courses.
SkillsFuture is a national movement that provides Singapore citizens and residents with opportunities to further their knowledge and realise their potentials. Ultimately, the campaign aims to contribute to the development of Singapore into an advanced economy with an inclusive society.
Regardless of your current level, SkillsFuture has an array of useful resources that will help you become proficient at a particular skill. Even, better the training focuses on more than academic excellence. Besides having the papers, you will attain a mindset that drives you to strive for excellence. Essentially, SkillsFuture is a platform for lifelong learning.
Every Singaporean turning 25 years old gets their SkillsFuture Credit account activation letter in the first three months of the year. The letter comes with a pamphlet that clarifies how to find courses and how to use the credit.
The rules are slightly different from those who have recently acquired citizenship and are aged above 25. In this case, they get the activation letter within three months after receiving the Singaporean citizenship.
After joining the program, individuals have to create a SingPass account to access the SkillsFuture portal. SingPass supports two-factor authentication to enhance its security.
Who Benefits from SkillsFuture Credit?
As mentioned above, any Singaporean aged above 25 gets a free SkillsFuture credit account loaded with S$500. This credit does not expire, and the government will periodically disburse top-ups to build on to the initial S$500.
It is worth noting that the SkillsFuture Credit does not earn any interest. The credit is also non-transferable and only becomes invalid when the account owner dies or changes their citizenship.
The credit can only be used to pay fees for approved courses. Furthermore, transactions are only made using the SkillsFuture portal, meaning that you cannot withdraw the amount in your account.
According to the SkillsFuture Singapore Agency (SSG), the program targets people aged above 25 because they are likely to have completed their full-time education. The platform allows them to engage in a lifelong learning process while they prepare to join the labour force.
The SkillsFuture program is only for individuals, not employers. This is in line with its objective of empowering individuals with invaluable skills that will assist them for a lifetime. Employers, on the other hand, are eligible for subsidies of up to 90% for tuition fees for courses supported by the SSG.
How to Access the SkillsFuture Portal
You can easily access the SkillsFuture portal using your desktop or mobile. The supported browsers include Chrome version 43, Firefox version 39, Internet Explorer 9, and Safari version 5.1, and higher versions of these applications.
SkillsFuture Approved Courses
After activating your account, you can use the credit in your SkillsFuture account to pay for a variety of courses. The programs that allow this form of payment include select courses offered by institutions funded by the Singaporean Ministry of Education, courses approved by the SSG, courses supported by public agencies.
The SkillsFuture Credit program exclusively supports skills-related courses. The reason behind this bias is the evolving nature of the modern global economy. The program aims to help Singaporeans by improving their skillsets and acquiring new knowledge that will progress their careers.
Also, the SkillsFuture Credit is only eligible for approved courses taught in Singapore and online, but not in overseas countries.
How to Find SkillsFuture Approved Courses
The most exciting part after activating your SkillsFuture account is looking for a course to advance your skills. Maybe you need the skills to get your dream job, or perhaps you are eyeing a promotion that requires you to be proficient at something you currently do not know. Regardless of your motive, here is how to navigate the SkillsFuture course directory.
The SkillsFuture course catalogue has over 10,000 programs, both part-time and full-time. It works like a standard search engine, meaning that you can easily find your desired course if you know the right keywords. You will also get relevant suggestions if the search terms you use do not match the exact title of a course.
Another feature of the directory is the subcategories that denote the most popular keywords. These include National Silver Academy, WSQ, Silver Infocomm Junction, and SF for ECCCE, and so on. Here, all you have to do is clicking on the subcategories to access the list of courses.
As mentioned above, the SkillsFuture portal has thousands of courses, and it can be quite challenging to identify a particular course. This is usually the case, especially when the courses in question are closely related.
The best way of narrowing down to specific courses is by getting a recommendation from the seniors at your workplace, or anybody who has previous experience with the portal.
Alternatively, you can search for a specific course by looking at the list on Workforce Singapore, which is similar to the one SkillsFuture Directory. The Workforce Singapore catalogue lists the courses according to their fields, such as Finance, Marketing, Technology, and so forth, which makes it locate your preferred choice.
When browsing through the courses directory, make a list of the courses you find attractive. Make sure that you note down the course title, the name of the provider, the contact information, and the tuition fees. This way, it will be much easier to zero in on a specific program.
Before you apply for a course, it is advisable to research so that you know more about it. All of the programs listed on the SkillsFuture directory come with a downloadable PDF brochure that offers more details. In case the information in the document is not sufficient, you can always contact the training provider.
Compare and Contrast
You may notice that some programs have expensive fees that can consume the entirety of your SkillsFuture Credit. Ensure that read and understand all the details before applying for a course.
Either the WSG or the SSG subsidises the majority of the courses in the catalogue. Compare courses to see if they offer the same content, as this may save you money. You may also find that one of two similar courses has a subsidy, while the other does not. Contrasting courses is a smart way of ensuring that you do not break the bank for content that you would have acquired at a much lower price.
Prioritise Leading Institutions
Everybody values an excellent education. If you want quality content, consider applying for a course offered by renowned institutions in Singapore, such as BrightFuture.sg. Even better, these courses are approved by SSG and subsidised by the government, which means you get substantial savings without compromising the quality of education.
Applying For SkillsFuture Courses
After you identify your preferred SkillsFuture course, the next step is application. You cannot register for a program on the SkillsFuture portal – instead, you have to contact the training provider to see whether they are admitting new trainees.
Once you register for a course, you are required to pay the fees. The majority of the programs are heavily subsidised by the government to ensure that many people can afford them. The credit further reduces the financial burden.
As from May 2017, the default payment method for all programs on the SkillsFuture portal is paying the SkillsFuture directly to the trainers. The only exception is for Massive Open Online Courses, where learners pay fees in whole to the trainer and then submit a claim for compensation of SkillsFuture Credit to their accounts. The claim must be filed inside 60 days before the course starts or 90 days after it begins.
If you intend to pay using your SkillsFuture Credit, ensure that you inform your training provider beforehand. This gives them time to offset the amount you are willing to pay against the total tuition fees. You must then submit a request to the SkillsFuture portal to pay the specified amount to your trainer for your registered course.
Further Information Regarding SkillsFuture Credits
SkillsFuture Credits do not expire – they remain active and continue to accumulate with every top-up from the government. The credits only become inactive when the owner renounces their Singaporean citizenship or when they die.
You cannot use the credits to cover course registration fees. It can only pay for tuition fees, exam fees for certifiable courses, and certification fee for approved online programs.
Moreover, you can only claim the credits after registering for course. You have to provide course details before submitting the claim. If you provide false requests without registering for a course, you are effectively violating the law. The consequences include a penalty fine of up to S$10,000 and a jail term of 12 months, or both.
If you submit a claim with inaccurate details, you will have to cancel and resubmit a new one. Note that you can only resubmit before the course starts.
SkillsFuture is an innovative platform that seeks to assist the Singaporean workforce in advancing their skills. Besides offering a plethora of programs at subsidised costs, it also provides an S$500 initial credit to reduce further the expenses you incur to gain knowledge. This credit accumulates over time due to the periodic top-ups from the government.
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