No B.S. Guide To Choosing SkillsFuture Courses and Making Full Use of Your SkillsFuture Credit
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No B.S. Guide To Choosing SkillsFuture Courses and Making Full Use of Your SkillsFuture Credit

profileJoel Koh
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Just the other day I received a present in the mail.

Baby receiving present
Source: Tenor

It was a letter about the upcoming $500 SkillsFuture credit top-up that was previously announced as part of the Singapore Budget 2020.

I know what you’re thinking. But Joel, this is not a gift, SkillsFuture is funded using taxpayers money!

That’s a fair point. But regardless of the source of the funding, I choose to see it as a great opportunity to invest in myself.

As Warren Buffett, arguably one of the world’s best investors has said:

“By far the best investment you can make is in yourself.”

To be completely honest, I would say that I have not used my SkillsFuture credit well.

When I first enrolled in a photoshop course last year using my credits, I envisioned that I would become an Adobe Photoshop expert in a manner of days.

But that did not happen, because obviously, just attending a SkillsFuture course would not make you an expert.

However, it can help you establish the foundation for a change in careers, or let you pick up some soft skills that will help you advance your career.

To make things right, I took advantage of invested precious working hours to research on how to choose SkillsFuture courses and make full use of SkillsFuture credit for careers. All for my… I mean. Your benefit.

Everyone wins what.

After all, $500 is not a lot of money so here’s how you can make the best use of it!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are our own. We just want you to do well in life. For more information about our editorial guidelines, please refer to the Seedly Code of Ethics.


What is SkillsFuture?

Before we begin with the tips, here is some basic information about SkillsFuture you should know.

I will be taking information from our comprehensive guide to SkillsFuture which provides a good overview of the scheme.

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.

SkillsFuture New Seedly

Who Can Benefit from SkillsFuture?

SkillsFuture’s designed to benefit Singaporeans at all stages of their lives. That includes:

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

But, this article will focus on more on the benefits for individuals.

Skillsfuture Top-Up

Come 1 October 2020, all Singaporeans aged 25 years old and up will enjoy a $500 SkillsFuture Credits top-up which can be used with your existing SkillsFuture credit for all SkillsFuture Credit-eligible courses.

However, do note that these credits will expire by 31 December 2025.

Mid-Career Support SkillsFuture Credit ($500)

In addition, all Singaporeans aged 40-60 years old will enjoy an additional $500 SkillsFuture Credits top-up which can only be used for the 200 odd Continuing Education and Training (CET) Centres career transition courses.

These credits will also expire by 31 December 2025.

1. Spend SkillsFuture Credit Like its Your Own Money

Speaking of SkillsFuture credits, I know this sounds kind of obvious, but this mindset shift is important.

Spend SkillsFuture credit like it’s your own money.

Because technically part of it is your money, as if you pay tax in Singapore, you would have contributed partly to funding for a Government programme like SkillsFuture.

Tax Icon

As the saying goes:

People don’t value the things they get for free.

I would think there’s a tendency to think that since these credits are ‘free’, they are less valuable than something you have paid for.

But no, money still changes hands, as the Government is paying for the courses with the tax revenue.

Since it’s your money in a sense, this mindset shift can help you fully comprehend the value of the courses you are signing up for.

You would be more inclined to spend it wisely, which leads me on to my next point.

2. Identify or Reflect on Your Career Goals

Once you have realised the value of your SkillsFuture credit, the next step would be to identify or reflect on your career goals.

I will need you to reflect on your personal life aspirations, particularly your life and career goals.

Take time to reflect on your personal strengths and weakness by evaluating what you have achieved in your career, and what you are good at, or struggle with.

You might want to engage the help of someone like a career mentor, for a more objective evaluation.

  

The last step would be to write down all your

3. Develop a Personal Learning Plan

The next step will be to figure out how to achieve your career goals.

Here is where a Personal Learning Plan (PLP) can really help you.

genius plan
Source: Giphy

Typically, a PLP is used in schools and universities to teach students how to achieve short- and long-term learning goals.

Although it is used in schools, it also can be very effective for your career development.

As the name suggests, PLPs are very personal as it should be sculpted based on your career goals.

Your PLP should be S.M.A.R.T. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This level of detail will help you break down your PLP into something less vague, help you stay focused, and increase your motivation to complete it.

Your PLP could comprise of:

  • An overarching learning objective: For example, it could be something like I want to ‘learn how to communicate and relate effectively at the workplace’  to ‘nurture a more positive work experience and environment.’
  • A learning strategy: For example, it could mean attending this Effective Communications and Relationship Building workshop or taking up drama classes or subscribing to YouTube channels that teach communication skills.
  • An achievable success measurement: This could be something like having fewer unconstructive arguments in the workplace or simply feeling less anxiety when you talk to your boss.
    To avoid burning out and quitting on unrealistic goals, create intermediate objectives that you have enough time to complete, given your real-life commitments.
  • A time-bound deadline for the overarching learning objective: This could be your ultimate key performance indicator (KPI) that you set for yourself. This KPI can be broken down into smaller objectives and key results (OKRs) or smaller steps along the way.
    For example, your KPI will be I want to learn an ‘x’ new skill or by December. Your OKR will be to focus on developing ‘y’ by November. You will need to review and evaluate this KPI regularly and even reset the whole thing if it’s not working well.

For example, your PLP could be something like: ‘I want to become a team lead in three years time’. The next step would be to break down the PLP into stages and reflect on what steps you need to take.

This can include anything from management training workshops or leadership certifications which you can find on SkillsFuture.

Pro Tip: To set goals for your PLP, you can make use of the skills section of the resume of your dream job to help you identify the skills you need to obtain.

4. Technical and Technological Skills Are Not the Only Legitimate Form of Learning

When you are reflecting about what skills you need to acquire to advance your career, don’t forget to include general but important ‘human’ skills like the ability to relate to others; strong communication skills, patience with others; active listening skills etc.

At the start of this year, the World Economic Forum wrote a piece arguing that going forward to higher education should focus on “human” skills, not only digital skills stating that:

‘We are in the midst of a profound social and economic transformation that has been catalysed by breathtaking advances in automation and artificial intelligence, and unprecedented access to data and computation.
The impact of these technologies pervades nearly every sector of our economy, affecting a wide range of occupations across healthcare, finance, transportation, energy, manufacturing and beyond.
’21st-century students must learn how to approach problems from many perspectives, cultivate and exploit creativity, engage in complex communication, and leverage critical thinking. With a future of work that is constantly evolving, these non-automatable “human” skills are foundational, and will only increase in value as automation becomes more mainstream.’

In other words, what they are saying is that the digital transformation will have a transformative impact on the way we work. As processes become more automated, these soft ‘human’ skills become all the more important.

Sure, picking up digital skills is important, but it is not the be-all and end-all. These soft ‘human’ skills complement your hard skills and can act as a force multiplier to advance your career.

Now that you have a better idea of what type of courses to take to maximise your SkillsFuture credit. Let’s go into the how.

5. Not All Courses Are Created Equal

Last I checked, there are over 23,000 SkillsFuture courses available.

number of skillsfuture courses
Source: SkillsFuture

With the sheer number of courses, it may be hard to identify the legit accredited training providers from the fly by night ones.

For that very reason, I’ll prefer to sign up for a course in a relatively well-established institution.

For private schools, you will need to research their accreditation.

For that, you will need the help of Singapore’s Committee for Private Education (CPE), a part of SkillsFuture Singapore

Founded back in 2009, the CPE is the regulating body of private education institutions (PEIs) in Singapore.

All PEIs will need to register with the CPE for monitoring and evaluation.

The PEIs are evaluated with the awarding of the EduTrust certification status.

The EduTrust Certification Scheme (EduTrust) is a quality assurance scheme administered by CPE for PEIs in Singapore. It aims to distinguish private schools that are able to consistently maintain a high standard of quality in the overall provision of education services and make continual improvements that lead to positive student outcomes.

EduTrust Certification Status

CERTIFICATION CHARACTERISTICS
EduTrust Star 

 

EduTrust Star (750 points and above)

Award is given to a PEIs for attaining a commendable level of performance in managing their institutions and providing an outstanding quality of education and welfare for their students. This mark is a symbol of recognition for outstanding achievement. The EduTrust Star has a validity of up to four years.

EduTrust 

EduTrust (600 to 749 points)

Award is given to PEIs for sustaining an excellent level of performance in managing their institutions and providing high-quality education standards and welfare for their students. The EduTrust has a validity of up to four years.

 

EduTrust Provisional 

EduTrust Provisional (500 to 599 points)

Award is given to PEIs that have attained a minimum level of performance in key areas of administration and provision of educational services. The EduTrust Provisional has a validity of up to one year.
In accepting the award, the PEI acknowledges the need for improvements to meet the level of performance expected of the four-year EduTrust award in its existing management practices and service provisions, and strives to achieve this.

Source: Committee for Private Education (CPE)

The table above is pretty self-explanatory. Ideally, you should look for courses from PEIs with an EduTrust Star. But this only applies locally.

To their credit, SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore have done a pretty decent job in weeding out fly by night training providers, but it’s always best to do your research and due diligence.

For courses that are not provided by local service providers, one way to do your due diligence is to join learning communities and ask for recommendations.

For example, if you want to pick up the Python programming language, you can consider joining the Singapore Python User Group to ask for reviews from programmers.

You could also ask our savvy SeedlyCommuity for help in recommending courses as well.

Not to mention that these communities are a great opportunity for networking as well!

6. Compare Prices With Course Providers

Another helpful tip to pick SkillsFuture courses is to compare prices with course providers.

Although SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore have done a pretty good job in keeping information relevant, this task is not easy.

The training providers conduct sales or will update their prices throughout the year.

For example, just today, I checked out this Learn and Understand C++ Skillsfuture on SkillsFuture.

Learn and Understand C++ Skillsfuture
Souce: SkillsFuture

However, when I went clicked the link, it turns out that Udemy was having a timed sale on the course.

Learn and Understand C++ Udemy
Source: Udemy

Thus, it is always good to go directly to the training provider’s website to check the actual price of the course.

Some courses might be cheaper than they are, or you might find some price discrepancy that you can report to SkillsFuture!

Not to mention that SkillsFuture encourages you to ask the training provider if any funding/subsidy is available.

7. SGunited Skills Programme: Training Allowance of $1,200 and Course Fees Highly Subsidised and Eligible for Skillsfuture Credit

Last but not least, I would like to highlight the SGUnited Skills Programme. 

Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 outbreak has a negative impact on our economy.

The labour market numbers are not pretty.Labour Market Report Q2 2020

Retrenchments, short work/week layoffs and our unemployment rate are rising.

What is the SGUnited Skills Programme?

If you happen to have lost your job or have been unemployed for whatever reason., you can consider the SGUnited Skills programme: a full-time modular training programme ranging from six to 12 months.

Under this programme, you will be able to sign up for courses delivered by CET centres, like Institutes of Higher Learning.

These courses are really practical as they are created in close partnership with industry partners to help trainees obtain industry-relevant skills that can improve their employability.

That’s not all, once trainees have picked up the skills, they can apply them through opportunities like workplace immersions and industry projects.

SGUnited Skills Programme Benefits

  1. Trainees will be given a training allowance of $1,200* a month during the duration of the programme.
  2. Course fees will be highly subsidised and you can your SkillsFuture Credit to pay for the courses.
  3. Attendees will be provided with opportunities such as workplace immersion and industry projects that give you a platform to apply the skills you learnt.
  4. There will be employment facilitation by training providers.

*Recipients of the COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) and the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) will receive top-ups to their CSG/SIRS payouts for participating in the training.
CSG recipients will receive a top-up of $400 and SIRS recipients will receive a top-up of $200. They will receive the SGUnited Skills training allowance of $1,200 after those payouts are completed.

SGUnited Skills Programme Industries

  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Professional Services
  • Tourism
    (Hotel, MICE, Attractions, Tour & Travel)
  • Construction/Facilities Management
  • Food Services
  • Retail
  • Transport & Logistics
  • Environmental Services
    (More info coming soon)
  • Healthcare & Community Care
  • Security

What SkillsFuture Courses Would You Recommend?

Share your thoughts with our SeedlyCommuity and help someone out today!

skillsfuture seedly

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About Joel Koh
History student turned writer at Seedly. Before you ask, not a teacher. My time as a history student has equipped me with the skills to evaluate the impact societal development has on financial and nonfinancial events.
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