The national SkillsFuture movement was launched in 2015. Since then, training participation rates have increased from 35 per cent to around 50 per cent in 2022.

Close to 40 per cent of Singaporeans in their 30s have used their base S$500 credits, compared with about 25 per cent of those aged 60 and above.

The purpose of the new SkillsFuture scheme announced in February is to enable mid-career transitions to in-demand industries, hence the targeted nature of the S$4,000 top-up in credits, said SIT’s Dr Ng. 

“For people who are not keen on these industries, they can still rely on the earlier SkillsFuture scheme to explore industries outside of the industry they are currently employed in,” he added. 

“Both types of schemes serve very different purposes and do not affect each other.” 

Dr Xu Le of the National University of Singapore’s business school noted that the new measure seeks to encourage people to upskill or reskill, to maintain the competitiveness of Singapore’s workforce.

On the other hand, one of the objectives of the S$500 in basic tier SkillsFuture credits is to incentivise individuals to pursue their genuine interests and cultivate lifelong learning habits, she added. 

“I believe it’s crucial to maintain the flexibility of the basic tier of credits and allow individuals to choose courses they desire, even if they aren’t directly related to their careers,” said Dr Xu. 

“As long as these courses bring happiness and contribute to overall well-being, they can indirectly benefit their careers by promoting a healthier and happier life.” 

Experts pointed to the example of Apple founder Steve Jobs, who took a calligraphy class at a time when it had no practical application in his life or career.

But when his team at Apple was coming up with the first Macintosh 10 years later, everything he learnt about typography and typefaces came back to him and was incorporated into the design of the computer. 

This is why SkillsFuture courses still need to cater to diverse needs that go beyond employment, said Mr Ho Seong Kim, CEO of the Singapore Institute of Management Academy.

“These learning opportunities may not directly support immediate employment outcomes,” he added. “But are nonetheless valuable for personal growth and self-discovery, which can lead to entrepreneurship.”


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