Practical tips for your skills upgrading adventures!

By February 20, 2019Current

TL;DR – Everything you need to know from getting a career coach to getting training subsidies and even a job!

Seeking to upgrade your skills for 2019? Here are a couple of practical money-saving tips that could help you in your course-seeking endeavour!

A) Not so easy to find something to learn

There are some 10,000 courses out there and it is not as easy to decide on something. If you merely pick and choose something you’re interested in, guess what – it may not turn out to be useful and you’d have wasted both time and money.

So here’s a tip: Talk to a Career Coach. They’re available at the Employment & Employability Institute (e2i) or the Workforce Singapore (WSG).

Union member Mr Wong Yoke Soon (L) with his U PME Centre career coach Herjeet Singh (R) (via NTUC)

And if you’re a PME and also an NTUC member, you can book an appointment for career coaching at the U PME Centre downtown. The U PME Centre is a one-stop advisory centre for professionals, managers and executives.

A career coach can systematically find your calling instead of having you run into brick walls, getting no success.

B) Will the course lead to practical use?

Any course you take on should be taken with an end in mind. What do you really want to do? If you want to learn cake-making, do you want to be a freelance baker? Or do you want to work for a bakery? And if it is the bakery, would it be better if you were to learn F&B management instead?

Again, if in doubt, refer to point A) above.

C) Is there a placement component?

There are courses that provide attachment, internship and other placement opportunities, for instance, the Place-and-Train and Attach-and-Train programmes under the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP).

Look out for these!

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D) Don’t be surprised if the GST is more than 7% (not a conspiracy, jeng jeng jeng)

This is normal. IRAS requires companies to charges GST on the full course fee and not the subsidised course fee that you may encounter.

The institutions of learning do not benefit from this, GST has to be submitted in its entirety to IRAS. If you have difficulty understanding this, you might want to look up some accountancy courses -wink-

E) There are admin fees to pay for some of these, choose carefully

In some subsidised courses, there is a charge if you fail and need to be re-tested. Again, this is normal. Take driving for example: if you fail the basic theory, you have to pay again. This is because there is administration work to pay for and most institutions don’t exactly make money from this.

Sometimes, institutions help learners by absorbing the re-test fee (especially the really nice ones) but they cannot advertise this: can you imagine how this can be abused? There are also some that allow the learners to attend the courses again for free before taking the re-test. Alternatively, institutions may also direct learners to other courses if they are found to be unsuitable.

F) There is this thing called UTAP on top of SkillsFuture

Everyone has heard of SkillsFuture, not many know about UTAP.

UTAP is a training benefit for NTUC Members to defray cost of learning. This benefit is to encourage more NTUC Members to upgrade their skills. There is 50% unfunded course fee support for up to $250 each year for courses supported under UTAP. This sits on top of your $500 SkillsFuture Credits!

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So if you’re looking out for a good deal, don’t forget to consider this worker-oriented subsidy.

A PIVOT session in progress (via)

G) If you are above 40, look out for larger subsidies

Speaking about extended subsidy, there are “Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidies” as part of the SkillsFuture initiative. This gives eligible individuals a higher subsidy rate of up to 90%. If you have commitments to pay for, this is for you.

Courses applicable include WSG-supported certifiable courses and MOE-funded programmes. In relation to MOE-funded programmes they range from Diplomas to Postgraduate degrees offered by ITE, Polytechnics, Autonomous Universities and UniSIM.

Fees for courses and programmes are automatically calculated and subsidised. Individuals would only need to pay a nett fee after all applicable subsidies (including SkillsFuture Credits) have been taken into consideration.

H) “Study so much but got job to work in or not?”

Ah, this is the bottom-line of skills upgrading isn’t it?

If this is your question then you should know about the Career Support Program (CSP). The CSP is a wage support programme offered by the Workforce Singapore (WSG) and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i).

The whole reason for this is to encourage employers to offer suitable job opportunities to eligible Singaporean workers and tap on the wealth of experience they could bring to the workplace.

In short: you will receive wage support of up to one year. Click here for more information: 


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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