Do you dread reading the news every day for fear of reading yet more about the economic recession that threatens to engulf Singapore? You’re not alone.
In times like these, job security is a major worry. Our once robust job market with low unemployment is undergoing a transformation for the worse, so it’s not surprising that more are taking up courses to gain new skills that could help secure future employment.
And since belt-tightening is essential in these dark times, why not take courses that let you earn as you learn?
In the spirit of encouraging re-training and upskilling, the government has been rolling out numerous initiatives that make it cheaper for workers to “future proof” themselves, including the $500 SkillsFuture Credit top up this year as well as the $10,000 SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit for businesses to upskill and reskill their staff.
To be fair, their concerns were quite valid even before the virus hit, as technology has made some jobs obsolete. Before COVID-19, reskilling was mainly targeted at mid-career and older workers. But now that we’re in the throes of the pandemic, everyone who has the time to consider reskilling should think about what they can do.
In March, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo even said, “During such times when business is not exactly booming, what can you do with the time that the workers have? Probably a better use of their time is to put into training.”
Here are four course programmes that pay training allowances:
SGUnited Skills (SGUS programme) – $1,200 a month
Open for enrolment from July 2020, the SGUnited Skills programme offers courses conducted by Continuing Education Training (CET) centres including local universities, polytechnics and ITEs.
The programme is targeted at Singaporeans and PRs who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and aims to retrain people and equip them with industry-relevant skills so that it’s easier for them to find jobs.
Each course lasts between 6 to 12 months and is full-time. Trainees will receive a monthly training allowance of $1,200 to cover basic expenses. Recipients of the COVID-19 Support Grant or Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme will receive a lower training allowance.
The list of courses is available on myskillsfuture.sg.
The programme’s key goals are not just to train workers but also to place them in new jobs. So, training providers will offer career advice and employment assistance to assist trainees in their job search, through activities such as workplace immersion and industry projects.
If participants manage to find a job during the course, they can quit the programme in order to commence employment. That being said, there is no guarantee that you will find a job.
Course fees have been subsidised and cost $500 nett for a 6-month programme and $1,000 nett for a 12-month programme. These fees can be further offset by using your SkillsFuture credit.
The Institute of Banking and Finance — $10/hour
If you’re currently working or looking for a job in the finance or fintech industries, this programme gives you the chance to receive an allowance while attending a training course.
The Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) Standards Training Scheme provides subsidies of course fees to eligible individuals who complete courses accredited under the Skills Framework for Financial Services.
Not only are course fees heavily subsidised up to 95%, you also receive a training allowance of $10/hour when you complete the training and assessment. (If you’re sponsored by an employer, the allowance is $15/hour, but that money will go to your employer.)
How does it work?
Let’s say the course you want to attend is $5,000 and requires a total of 80 hours to be completed.
The course fee is subsidised up to 95%, which means you only have to pay 5% — which works out to be $250 + GST — first.
After you complete and pass the course, you can then claim the training allowance of $10/hour, which is $800 ($10 x 80 hours).
So you’ll actually be gaining some money in the end! Note that the allowance can only be paid out after course completion.
To be eligible, you must be a Singaporean or PR and be physically based in Singapore. Courses have to start by 31 December 2002 and be completed by 31 March 2021.
You can find the list of eligible courses here.
NTUC Training Fund for Self-employed Persons — up to $11/hour
This programme is for self-employed persons who wish to upgrade their skills by taking selected courses.
The training allowance is $10/hour for non-NTUC union members, $10.50 for new NTUC union members who joined after 1 March 2020 and $11/hour for NTUC union members who joined before 1 March 2020.
On top of that, courses are eligible for a fee subsidy and SkillsFuture Credit too.
There is quite a wide range of courses available in many different areas of work such as tourism, adult education, events and entertainment, arts, fitness, real estate and media, as well as some general courses targeted at entrepreneurs, marketers and service professionals and so on.
Find out more about the courses here. They plan to update the list with more courses, so check back periodically if you don’t find anything suitable.
To register for a course, you’ll need to make sure you at least have one of the following supporting documents:
- Letter of Eligibility from NTUC’s e2i
- SIRS (Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme) Auto-Eligibility Letter from CPF Board
- SIRS successful application Letter/Email from NTUC
Workfare Training Support Scheme — $6/hour
If there’s one thing you already know about government initiatives, it’s that they often have confusing and un-catchy names. The Workfare Training Support Scheme (WTS), which is one good example, will be renamed to the just as nondescript Workfare Skills Support (WSS) from 1 July 2020 onwards.
This programme is targeted at Singapore citizens aged 35 and above, who earn not more than $2,000 per month. Persons with disabilities who earn no more than $2,000 a month can also qualify if they are aged 13 and above.
The eligible courses are subsidised up to 95% and participants can claim a training allowance of $6 per training hour (was previously $4.50), provided if the training is relevant to their job and they complete and pass the course.
Eligible courses include all Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) courses (here’s a list of WSQ course providers), approved Academic Continuing Education and Training (CET) courses by ITEs and polytechnics, and Certifiable Skills Training Courses accredited by SkillsFuture Singapore.
Bonus: if you’re really committed to your training and attend more courses, you can also get up to $400 as a Training Commitment Award. Check the WSG site to see what’s the criteria you need to meet.
This is really not an easy time, but by really hunkering down and doing the work necessary to upgrade yourself, you can continue to grow professionally.