5 ways to upskill yourself for free mid talent crunch (Bookmark this!)

5 ways to upskill

For some time now, we’ve been seeing reports after reports about how the job market is booming.

A key rhetoric in these reports is about how there is a tech talent crunch in Singapore, with many unfilled tech roles. For most of us without tech skills, it is yet another sobering moment where we sink into self-doubt – will we become obsolete in the future? Are we going to be stuck at the same place while others progress in their career? Do we need to upskill ourselves? Should we start taking up new courses to upskill ourselves?

Well, if you are wondering if it is time to upskill, then it probably is. Here’s a handy list of places to get started for free:

1. Coursera

Did you know that you can gain access to courses for free on Coursera? There are accredited courses, such as this Introduction to Statistics course from Stanford, which are free! If you look hard enough, you’ll definitely be able to find something useful.

Another pro-tip is that some courses may look only to be paid ones, but there’s actually an option to ‘audit’ the course when you try enrolling. However, note that while auditing the course makes it free to watch the lectures and download the notes, you might not gain access to quizzes.

This isn’t actually too much of a huge deal as there are still plenty of other free resources (eg. Kaggle) out there if you wanted to practise your newfound data skills. As they always say: When there’s a will, there is a way.

Coursera 7-days Free Trial

The only other catch is that enrolling in the free courses and auditing the course also means that you will not be entitled to having the coveted certificate of completion. (Who doesn’t like showing off?)

If you wanted to showcase a certificate on your LinkedIn, a workaround is to try cramming the entire course within the free trial period of 7 days. Sounds a bit crazy but hey, no pain no gain.

2. Udemy

Not too many people know this but signing up for a National Library Board account comes with Udemy perks! Check out this page for more information from NLB about logging in and signing up. Again, there are a bunch of free courses ranging from Google Analytics to Data Science Courses. The best part about these free courses is that they come with certificates which you can display them on your LinkedIn or resume without paying a cent.

If you’re still unconvinced, check out this Reddit thread full of Singaporeans raving about how great it is!

3. SkillsFuture

Surely everyone must know the existence of the SkillsFuture credits by now! Heck, it’s probably the first thing that comes to our mind when it comes to upskilling!

The scheme began in 2015 when the government dispensed $500 credits for all Singaporeans aged 25 and above. It aims to encourage individuals to take ownership of their skills development and lifelong learning.

Before you start complaining about how $500 is insufficient, you should check your credit balance. This is because the government made yet another top-up of $500 back in 2020 for everyone to encourage Singaporeans to upskill. Mid-career individuals also benefitted from higher top-ups of $1000.

Confused about how much you should have received? Check out this page to find out more about credit top-ups by the government.

For a full list of courses that accept SkillFuture credits, refer here.

Here’s a protip: Don’t be put off by some of the prices quoted on the page. If you are really keen in a particular course, do a search on the course provider website and you might just see that there are further subsidies available.

For example, this 7-lessons Data Analytics Bootcamp from Vertical Institute (VI) looks to cost $2,500 on the myskillsfuture website here, but on VI’s webpage you’ll see that there are further funding subsidies for Singaporeans from the Institute of Banking and Finance. The cost then comes down to just $267.50!

Not enough SkillsFuture credits left to pay for this VI course? There’s still the –

4. UTAP

The subsidy works such that NTUC members can offset 50% of the course fees that need to be paid in cash with UTAP. That is if you’re an NTUC union member. The union membership costs $81 per year, but union members can enjoy up to a $250 course fee subsidy. Did someone say value-for-money?

Besides working with training providers such as Vertical Institute, UTAP is also applicable for courses from institutes of higher learning such as universities and polytechnics. Check out this page for a full list of courses on its list!

5. Company-sponsored

Did you know that the government actually provides companies with funding and subsidies when they send their employees on courses to upskill themselves? Well, don’t let that go to waste. The next time you have a review with your boss, do sound them out and request to be sent on courses.

Be prepared, though, to justify how the new skills can help you in your job, or how your responsibilities can be allocated when you go on a course. A war well-prepared is a war you are more likely to win!