Your Complete SkillsFuture Guide For 2020: Top-Ups + Revised Benefits
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Your Complete SkillsFuture Guide For 2020: Top-Ups + Revised Benefits

Rebecca Liew
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[UPDATED:] Come October 2020, all Singaporeans will enjoy a $500 SkillsFuture Credits top-up. That’s (clearly) a win in our books — but more on that in a bit. 😬


At the risk of sounding like a complete loser, SkillsFuture Credits are one of my favourite things in the world.

Never mind the benefits of ‘lifelong learning’, a term so liberally used that it’s lost its flavour – much like ‘wanderlust’ (ugh).

When I first enrolled in a Graphic Communication course at NAFA last year using my credits, I’d imagined myself mastering Adobe Illustrator in a matter of weeks.

Happy dance
Source: tenor

Except going for a SkillsFuture course won’t automatically make you a pro (duh).

But it can set the foundation right for a smoother transition if you’re switching industries, or simply looking to learn some soft skills.

Here’s an overview of what this guide covers:

  • What Is SkillsFuture? 
  • Who Can Benefit From SkillsFuture?
  • The Next Bound of SkillsFuture: What’s Changed?
  • SkillsFuture Credits, Top-Ups and Claims
  • What Kinds of SkillsFuture Programmes Are There? 
  • Before Enrolling In a Course: Things to Know

What Is SkillsFuture?

SkillsFuture is an initiative that allows Singaporeans and PRs to acquire new skills or upgrade existing ones, whether you’re making the brave transition between industries or simply picking up a hobby.

These can be supplemented by courses, some of which may be offset using SkillsFuture Credits. There’re also career guidance sessions for everyone from students to those in their silver years.

Who Can Benefit from SkillsFuture?

We don’t do sponsored posts, so this plug is entirely voluntary: SkillsFuture’s designed to benefit Singaporeans at all stages of their lives. That includes:

  • Polytechnic, ITE and university students
  • Fresh grads and post grads
  • Job-seekers
  • Early-career and mid-career switchers
  • Employees
  • Employers
  • SMEs

What’s Changed With The Next Bound of SkillsFuture?

Yep, it’s not some new-fangled term we dreamed up — because there’re evidently far better names than The Next Bound of SkillsFuture — but the namesake initiative’s been given a new breath of life, as was announced at Budget 2020.

Spongebob Studious
Source: tenor

Beyond the $500 credits top-up that we’re already liking, here’s how else you might benefit.

Who It's ForWhatPurpose/Benefits
IndividualsSkillsFuture Credits top-up$500, one-off
For Singaporeans aged 25 and up
Valid from Oct 2020 to Dec 2025
Additional $500, one-off
For Singaporeans aged 40 to 60; applicable on selected reskilling programmes
Valid from Oct 2020 to Dec 2025
Work-Study ProgrammesIntake capacity to be increased to 12% by 2025 — up from the current 3.5% per cohort
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)SkillsFuture Enterprise Credits$10,000
For enterprise and workforce transformation
Eligible employers can use this amount to cover up to 90% of out-of-pocket expenses
Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG)Grant to include a new arm: job redesign consultancy services
National Centre of Excellence for Workplace Learning (NACE) To be expanded to two more Institutes of Higher Learning
To benefit over 1,200 enterprises
Employers and Mid-Career EmployeesMid-Career Support PackageTo boost career transition opportunities for those in their 40s to 50s
20% salary support (capped at $6,000) to employers that hire Singaporean jobseekers aged 40 and up
Reskilling programmes include the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) and TeSA
Introduction of Volunteer Career Advisors for peer-level support

If your eyes are already glazing over, then read on for a more detailed look at what exactly SkillsFuture entails, and how it works.

SkillsFuture Credits, Top-Ups and Claims

illustration of money transaction

We mentioned SkillsFuture Credits earlier — and it works kinda like cash, except you ironically can’t cash out on it.

If you’re a Singaporean aged 25 or older, you’ll be given $500 in opening credits for use on courses in the extensive SkillsFuture Credit Course Directory.

And here comes our favourite bit: this October 2020, all eligible Singaporeans will enjoy a one-off top-up of $500 in SkillsFuture Credits.

The catch? The additional credits expire in Dec 2025, but your base credits of $500 won’t.

Essentially, that means you’ll have $1,000 of credits to splash on a repository of courses over five years, including career transition programmes under selected Continuing Education and Training (CET) Centres.

donald duck counting money
Source: giphy

Better yet if you’re aged between 40 to 60 years old, because you’ll enjoy an extra $500 in credits in addition to the existing top-up — bringing your total credits to a maximum of $1,500. But keep in mind: this excess of $500 can only be used on selected reskilling programmes.

In the meantime, try these practical tips if you feel like you’re pursuing the wrong degree or job.

How to Submit SkillsFuture Credit Claims

To redeem your credits, you’ll be asked to log in to the official SkillsFuture portal while signing up for your course. For this, you’ll need proof of payment from your provider, whether an official invoice or receipt.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Login to your SkillsFuture Account (via Submit a Claim button)
  2. Fill out your profile if you haven’t
  3. Select the course you’ve enrolled in
  4. Indicate how much of your SkillsFuture credits you wish to use (up to $500, or — from Oct 2020 — up to $1,000)
  5. Upload your supporting documents
  6. Submit your claim

The credits’ll be deducted immediately; you can then foot the balance, if any.

So if your Data Analytics course is $1,000 — and you’ve $600 in credits — you’ll only be charged $400.

What Kinds of SkillsFuture Programmes Are There?

It can be overwhelming navigating the SkillsFuture site, but this table will have you sorted.

If You're Looking For...Recommended ProgrammeIdeal For
An internshipEnhanced InternshipsPoly and ITE undergrads
Industry attachmentsWork-Study Post-Grad Programmes (WSP) Post-grads
Industry-relevant courses spanning finance, data analytics and techSkillsFuture SeriesAll Singaporeans
Education, training and career guidance MySkillsFutureAll Singaporeans and PRs
On-the-job trainingSkillsFuture Earn and LearnPoly and ITE fresh grads
A way to acquire Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skillsTechSkills Accelerator (TeSA)ICT and non-ICT professionals
(both fresh- and mid-career)
Overseas work experienceYoung Talent Programme (YTP)Poly and uni students (Singaporeans and PRs)
A skills-focused bootcamp leading to job placementWork-Learn Bootcamp Fresh grads and mid-career Singaporeans
On-the-job training with partner companiesWork-Study DegreeStudents of NUS, NTU, SIT and SUSS
(select courses only)
A way to advance your skillset in your field SkillsFuture Study Awards
($5,000 monetary award)
Early- to mid-career Singaporeans
Education and career guidanceEducation and Career Guidance (ECG)All Singaporeans
An overview of career resources and opportunitiesSkillsFuture AdviceAll Singaporeans and PRs
A career with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)P-MaxJob-seeking PMETs (Singaporeans and PRs)
Mentorship for your employees SkillsFuture SME MentorsSMEs
Info on emerging skills, programmes and career pathwaysSkills FrameworkEmployers
A tech-skills upgradeSkillsFuture for Digital WorkplaceSingaporeans (individuals and employers)
Full WSQ qualificationsSkillsFuture Qualification AwardSingaporean workers
A mid-career skills boostSkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy
(up to 90% subsidised course fees)
Singaporeans over 40
Skills relating to training delivery and curriculum development iN.LEARN 2020All CET partners and practitioners

If you’re a student, for instance, you might want to look into these programmes:

  • The Young Talent Programme (YTP)
  • SkillsFuture Earn and Learn
  • Work-Learn Bootcamp
  • Work-Study Degree

Conversely, if you’re 50 years and up (or my dad), you’ll enjoy course subsidies of up to 90% at major institutions under programmes such as the National Silver Academy.

Before Enrolling In a Course

Before jumping the gun and signing up for the first thing you see, pay some thought to what you actually want.

Are you looking to venture into a side hustle, or learn a skill that might help in your career transition? 

Guy Thinking With Tea Cup
Source: knowyourmeme

From there, narrow your options in the SkillsFuture Credit Course Directory, which allows for searches by categories such as Area of Training and Training Providers.

Then check if you meet the course’s prerequisites — and whether you’d be able to commit for the length of it. You don’t want to waste your credits, because some programmes do impose a minimum attendance requirement. 

If you’re employed, you might also want to check if your company offers extra subsidies for certain courses that are pertinent to your field of work.

How To Choose The Right Course (And School) on SkillsFuture

It can be hard to discern accredited training providers from dodgy ones. For that very reason, I’d much rather go for a course in a relatively well-established institution than a private school.

To their credit, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore have been pretty darn thorough in weeding out shady training providers, but it’s always best to do your research.

Adventure Time Jake and Finn
Source: Tenor

Once you’ve narrowed your options, simply follow the steps to be redirected to the training provider’s page — and redeem your credits using the aforementioned steps. 

Should I Just Go For A Crash Course?

A one-day crash course may seem great — minimal commitment! No need for weekly night classes! — but the reality is, you’ll likely struggle to retain this knowledge.

Steve Carell The Office
Source: Tenor

Unless you’ve a basic foundation in your elected course, it’s down to you to commit to practising whatever’s been taught regularly, even after your course has concluded.

Ready To Maximise Those Credits?

Like I said, you’ll want to do your research before spending those SkillsFuture credits on something that might not serve you in the long run.

My inner aunty expects monetary returns for all the hours I’ve spent toiling on something.

Bugs Bunny money
Source: Tenor

But if you’re simply here to try your hand at something new (or just exploring options for a potential side hustle like opening a cafe), these are an excellent starting point:

So break out of your comfort zone, and go forth into the unknown — you might just surprise yourself.

About Rebecca Liew
Lactose-intolerant, but also BS-intolerant. Having written for the likes of Marina Bay Sands and Time Out, I now spend my days saving up for my stationery shop retirement dream.
You can contribute your thoughts like Rebecca Liew here.

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