Budget 2015: New grant for Singaporeans to take up skills upgrading courses
SINGAPORE — In a multi-pronged push to build a culture of lifelong learning here, the Government will give out grants for Singaporeans to take up skills upgrading courses, and start structured, paid apprenticeships for fresh graduates of polytechnics and ITEs, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced today (Feb 23).
The grant, called SkillsFuture Credit, will be given from next year onwards to Singaporeans 25 years old and above, for them to spend on education and training courses provided by Institutes of Higher Learning and accredited education and training providers, for example. The initial sum disbursed will be S$500, with more top-ups later. The grants will not expire.
This will allow employees to continue learning even after entering the workforce and the credit can be used for short programmes to assist them in their careers, said Mr Tharman.
Describing the “SkillsFuture” effort as a “major new phase of investment in our people, throughout life”, the minister noted this initiative will take learning to a whole new level. From embedding career guidance officers in schools to guide students on future pathways, Singaporeans can now also look to learning through online courses, for instance.
And it will not just be traditional teachers, but involving industry experts who will also step in to educate the next generation of people to be masters in their craft, he added.
Read more about SkillsFuture here.
The polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) landscape will also be changed to give their graduates a headstart in their careers, said Mr Tharman.
Polytechnic and ITE graduates will be matched with suitable employers and assigned mentors under an “earn-and-learn” programme, which will culminate in an industry-recognised qualification. Trainees and employers who are under this programme will receive “substantial support” from the Government, assured Mr Tharman, adding that this scheme will eventually cover up to one in three poly and ITE graduates.
“We will improve internships in our Institutes of Higher Learning to make them more structured and meaningful,” he said. “We will also help more of our students get international exposure”.
As for mid-career employees who are aged 40 and above, the Government will then enhance education and training subsidies to cover at least 90 per cent of course fees for courses funded by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, said Mr Tharman. These workers who need to balance family and career along with learning can also enjoy multiple subsidies for various modular courses from MOE so that there is flexibility in learning, he added.