SkillsFuture Credit 'empowers all of us to go further'

Whether it is someone new to the job market, a homemaker wanting to get back to work or a retiree looking to stay active, the SkillsFuture Credit scheme will help them get ahead, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

"Whether you are a graduate or someone with a master's degree, or you started work straight after leaving school, it does not matter," he said yesterday, as he launched the first of a series of roadshows to help Singaporeans make the best of their $500 credit under the scheme. "SkillsFuture empowers all of us to go further. And to renew ourselves as we go through life."

The initiative, which kicked off this month and for which the Government has set aside more than $1 billion, gives 2.5 million Singaporeans aged 25 and above $500 in credits to spend on upgrading themselves. Already, 10,000 courses in 57 areas, from digital animation to finance, healthcare and languages, are available, with more coming.

Singaporeans can expect to receive the activation letters for their credits by the end of this month, said the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), which administers the scheme. It began sending these letters, which include a step-by- step guide, in batches last Monday.

Mr Tharman, who is chairman of the SkillsFuture Council, urged beneficiaries to take their time in deciding how to spend their credits, which they can accumulate with future top-ups for courses which may cost more but are a better fit. "There is no need to rush," he stressed.

This is where the SkillsFuture Marketplace roadshows, presented as a supermarket of courses designed as colourful groceries, can help. For instance, a closer look at yesterday's inaugural roadshow at the courtyard of Westgate mall revealed that a paper cutout of some bok choy is, in fact, a brochure for an advanced course in social services. A "bag of pretzels" elaborated on a diploma in tourism, and a "jar of pickled carrots" had information on a course on how to put up metal scaffolds.

Visitors were given a shopping basket, which they could fill with brochures, as well as a shopping planner with a barcode, which they could scan at the various booths.

At the checkout counter, they could print out a list of the courses they have indicated an interest in, or e-mail it to themselves.

At least 6,000 people are expected to attend the roadshow, which ends today at 9pm. More are in the works for next month, said the WDA, which runs the roadshows.

Mr Bryan Tay, director of training provider DioWorks, said of the roadshow: "It allows us to reach heartlanders, people who are just milling around in the mall and who might not otherwise realise how we can help them use their credit." Dio-Works is the local partner of global education portal Udemy, which offers online video courses in areas such as health and photography.

Hougang resident Alice Ee, 45, went all the way to Jurong to find out more about the courses, as she had trouble searching for details online. "The design is great," said the travel agent. "I like how the information for each course is indicated clearly on the back of the 'food'."

Engineering production coordinator Zulkipli Md Khalid was browsing the shelves for courses that would prepare him for a second career. The 51-year-old said: "Now the economy is not so stable. If anything happens to my job, I need something to fall back on."

This article was first published on January 10, 2016.
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