Budget 2020: The next bound of SkillsFuture and what you need to know

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With global competition and technological advancements, industries and jobs continue to evolve. To stay competitive and relevant in these times, Singaporeans see value in continuously reskilling and upskilling. 

Beyond pre-employment education, support also has to be provided to those who are already part of the workforce. One of the key highlights of the Singapore Budget 2020 was the introduction of the Next Bound SkillsFuture to add on to the progress that SkillsFuture has achieved. 

STAYING RELEVANT IN CHANGING TIMES

During his Budget 2020 speech, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat highlighted that with shorter technology cycles and intense global competition, the skills we acquired when we were young need to be constantly refreshed. Career transitions will, therefore, also be more common. 

Budget 2020 is slated to help support Singaporeans acquire new skills in the midst of structural changes in the global economy. Hence, the Next Bound of SKillsFuture was introduced with 3 key elements: 

  • Enabling the individual 
  • Enhancing the role of enterprises in developing their staff 
  • Special focus on mid-career workers

WHAT IS SKILLSFUTURE?

SkillsFuture was introduced in 2015 to provide Singaporeans with opportunities to develop high-potential skills. There are different programmes available throughout all stages of life for students, employees (early- and mid-career) as well as employers. 

As part of SkillsFuture, all Singaporeans aged 25 and above receive an opening $500 in SkillsFuture Credits. This is to encourage individual ownership of skills development and lifelong learning. These credits can be used to learn a new skill and upskill through signing up for programmes.

For example, under the SkillsFuture Series, Singaporeans will be able to tap on a curated list of training programmes to stay relevant and prepare for the future. 

THE NEXT BOUND OF SKILLSFUTURE 

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Since the launch of SkillsFuture, as of the end of 2019, SkillsFuture Credits have helped more than half a million Singaporeans pick up and develop new interests. Training participation rates have also risen from 35 per cent in 2015 to 49 per cent in 2019.

The Next Bound of SkillsFuture aims to further support Singaporeans that are already at work, through enabling the individual, as well as enhancing the role of employers.

Here's a handy infographic from MOF highlighting the support being provided to workers in the Singapore Budget 2020.

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UPDATE #1: SKILLSFUTURE CREDIT TOP UP OF $500 

  • To enable the individual reskill and upskill. 

All Singapore Citizens aged 25 years old and above as at 31 Dec 2020 will receive a one-off SkillsFuture Credit top up of $500. 

This top up will be available from 1 Oct 2020 and will expire by the end of 2025. This is to encourage Singaporeans to take action early to learn new skills and make the best use of this period of economic slowdown. Any unused credit from this top up will lapse after 31 Dec 2025.

UPDATE #2: SKILLSFUTURE ENTERPRISE CREDIT AT $10,000 PER ENTERPRISE  

  • To enhance the role of enterprises in developing their staff. 

The SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit aims to encourage employers to embark on transforming both the enterprise and their workforce.

Employers will receive a one-off $10,000 credit to defray 90 per cent of out-of-pocket costs of business transformation, job redesign, and skills training. Of this $10,000 credit, $3,000 will be reserved for workforce transformation programmes. This will benefit about 39,000 enterprises, most of which will be SMEs.

To provide more support for job redesign, the Productivity Solutions Grant will be expanded to include job redesign consultancy services

UPDATE #3: SKILLSFUTURE MID-CAREER SUPPORT PACKAGE 

  • To help mid-career workers stay employable and move on to new jobs. 

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This package gives a special focus on mid-career workers in their 40s and 50s to help them stay employable and move on to new jobs or new roles.

These workers face greater competition from younger workers and workers overseas. The aim is to double annual job placements for locals in their 40s and 50s to around 5,500 by 2025.

The government plans to achieve this with a three-pronged approach: 

A) Increasing the capacity of reskilling programmes

These will include the: 

  • Professional Conversion Programme under the Adapt and Grow initiative 
  • Career transition programmes delivered by Continuing Education and Training Centres (CET Centres), like Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), and 
  • Sector-specific programmes like the TechSkills Accelerator Company-Led Training for ICT jobs

B) Incentivising employers to hire mid-career workers

A hiring incentive will be provided for employers who hire local job seekers aged 40 and above through a reskilling programme. For each eligible worker, the government will provide 20 per cent salary support to the employer for 6 months, capped at $6,000 in total.

C) Topping up SkillsFuture Credit with another $500 

To improve access to reskilling programmes, a special SkillsFuture Credit top-up of $500 will be provided to every Singaporean aged 40 to 60 in 2020. This will be on top of the top up we've touched upon in Update #1. This means that in 2020, Singaporeans aged 40 to 60 will receive a top up of $1,000 in SkillsFuture Credits in total. 

This additional credit can be used for selected reskilling programmes at CET Centres. Similar to the top up in Update #1, this additional credit will expire in about 5 years, to encourage early action.

D) Providing career guidance

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A group of volunteer Career Advisors from professional communities will be assembled. These advisors will be able to give local workers peer-level support and career guidance to help them navigate professional pathways.

With the components of the Next Bound SkillsFuture introduced, all Singaporeans aged 25 and above (and particularly those between 40 and 60), now have more credits available to pick up a new skill. It's a good time to act on it now.

This article was first published in SingSaver.com.sg.