We have a strange obsession with not spending our SkillsFuture.
Even with $500 SkillsFuture credits, some of us are reluctant to take up courses in case we use up all our credits.
After the government announced a $500 top-up, and another $500 for Singaporeans aged 40 to 60 years old, this may also not spur some Singaporeans to spend on courses.
Perhaps we feel insecure about dipping into our SkillsFuture credits for paid courses. Perhaps we worry about our out-of-pocket costs in this uncertain economic climate.
Is SkillsFuture the only way to reduce paid course fees?
I googled to find ways that we could take paid courses and not use our SkillsFuture credits.
It wasn’t difficult, but some of the options provided were definitely not as universal and flexible as SkillsFuture credit.
Nevertheless, having more options is better than a few.
Here are some hacks to save on your paid course fees without using SkillsFuture.
1. Workfare Training Grant
The Workfare Training Grant is specifically for low wage workers to take WSQ courses with a whopping 95% funding. On top of that, they get paid a training allowance and also a cash reward when they complete the course.
To qualify, individuals must meet the following criteria:
- Be a Singapore Citizen
- Aged 35 years and above (13 years and above for Persons With Disabilities); and
- Earn an average gross monthly income of not more than $2,000 for the months worked.
2. Company Training Committee (CTC)
It can be difficult to coordinate and arrange for employees to attend courses when there are so many obstacles (like time, resources, shift work) in the way.
That’s why some unionised companies and unions have formed CTCs in each company (with government support for a tripartite effort).
Each CTC will figure out the future skills needed by employees in the company, make the necessary manpower arrangements and send employees for training (sponsored by the company, NTUC Education Training Fund (NETF) and/or government grants).
3. NTUC Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP)
NTUC members enjoy 50% unfunded course fee support for up to $250 each year when you sign up for courses supported under UTAP.
Every year $250 leh.
There are more than 3,500 training courses under the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP).
4. Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA)
For younger Singaporeans with a PSEA account, you can use the funds inside to pay for your tertiary education and certain adult education courses run by partners like SG Enable, Singapore Institute of Legal Education (SILE) and National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC).
Even if you choose not to use your PSEA, the money in the PSEA account will just be transferred to your CPF Ordinary Account which can still be used for tuition fees for approved institutions under the CPF Education Scheme.
5. Skills Development Fund (SDF)
The Skills Development Fund is actually a 41-year-old fund established in October 1979 through the enactment of the Skills Development Levy Act.
This happened after the National Wages Council (a tripartite body consisting of unions, employers and government representatives) made recommendations for the establishment of a skills development fund that would be supported through contributions by all employers in Singapore in June 1979.
This fund would be used to finance the training of employees, retrain retrenched workers, and upgrade business operations and technology.
Today, employers who pay the Skills Development Levy for their employees can send them for approved courses eligible for training grants by SkillsFuture Singapore, which reduces the cost of the paid courses.
6. Caregivers Training Grant
The Caregivers Training Grant is a $200 annual training grant that caregivers can use to offset the costs of approved courses when looking after their dependents with disabilities (such as an elderly aged 65 years old and older, or be certified to have a disability by a doctor.
As the caregiver training courses help equip caregivers with the necessary skills in caring for the physical and emotional needs of their care recipients, this is one grant I hope will be continued and hopefully enhanced to cover more courses easily accessible to caregivers.
I bet you can also find some other hacks to save on course fees without using SkillsFuture!
What do you want to tell others? Find me at jules <at> workersofsingapore (dot) com