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Too early to decide on next top-up of SkillsFuture Credit: MP

SINGAPORE — Factors such as the take-up rate, as well as the Government’s fiscal position, would be considered in the review for the next phase of the national SkillsFuture Credit scheme, before deciding whether and when to disburse it, Parliamentary Secretary of Education Low Yen Ling said yesterday.

SINGAPORE — Factors such as the take-up rate, as well as the Government’s fiscal position, would be considered in the review for the next phase of the national SkillsFuture Credit scheme, before deciding whether and when to disburse it, Parliamentary Secretary of Education Low Yen Ling said yesterday.

Responding to a question from Member of Parliament (Pasir Ris-Punggol) Sun Xueling on whether the Government would conduct a comprehensive review of the scheme, Ms Low said that “it is still too early to discuss the timing or quantum of the next top-up for now” since it was only introduced in January last year.

Ms Low added that the focus for the drive now is on outreach, such as the roll-out of the SkillsFuture Engage programme to guide people on picking courses and training relevant to them to better prepare for their contributions to the future economy.

When asked if SkillsFuture courses should be better curated to lead to productivity enhancements rather than to facilitate learning for hobbies, Ms Low said that it is “inevitable” that some applicants would go for training not related to their careers, given that there is a “deliberately inclusive approach” for courses under SkillsFuture Credit to cater to all Singaporeans.

In Parliament yesterday, two Members of Parliament — Ms Sun and Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) — also asked the Education Ministry if more could be done to subsidise these courses or to provide credit top-ups.

Ms Low assured the House that courses are “highly subsidised by the Government to ensure affordability” and that they remain accessible.

She also pointed to other subsidies and schemes available for Singaporeans, apart from the S$500 SkillsFuture Credit given to those aged 25 and above last year.

“As long as Singaporeans are prepared to have a strong ownership of lifelong learning, help will be (made) available,” she said.

At the debate over the Education Ministry’s budget last month, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung had said the Government’s present approach of funding training providers to lower fees for Singaporeans has worked well. This “supply-side funding” gives the Government better control in funding courses relevant to industries and growth areas, even if it is less visible to the public.

Last February, SkillsFuture Singapore issued a media statement disclosing that there had been false claims for SkillsFuture Credit. About 4,400 individuals had submitted such bogus claims, encashing their SkillsFuture Credit — to the tune of some S$2.2 million — without attending any courses.

In Parliament last month, Ms Low said that SkillsFuture Singapore is closely tracking the recovery of monies and would not hesitate to take legal action against those who fail to return the monies. These individuals have until this month, or up to 30 days from receiving letters, to return the money. ALFRED CHUA

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