A national programme to spur Singaporeans to pick up skills and encourage lifelong learning saw more than 126,000 people using it in its first year.
They studied a wide spectrum of subjects ranging from programming and data analysis to baking bread and offering advice on wine.
In the coming months, more partners such as graduate business school Insead will come on board to offer courses under the SkillsFuture Credit scheme.
It was introduced last January for more than two million people, and gives Singaporeans aged 25 and older an initial $500 credit to pay for courses. The credits do not expire and will be topped up periodically, so they can be accumulated for more expensive courses.
SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) revealed in an update yesterday that 34 per cent of those who tapped the initiative last year used it more than once. About 63 per cent of the users were aged 40 and older.
Information and communications technology was the most popular training area across all age groups. Older Singaporeans tapped their credits to learn simple skills such as using basic computer functions, while younger Singaporeans enrolled for courses on emerging skills such as data analytics.
Other popular areas included languages, security and investigation, and productivity and innovation.
Hoping to equip himself with emerging skills, transport planner Zhang Weisheng used his SkillsFuture Credit on a data visualisation and communication course.
"I am quite convinced that this is an area that will be relevant in the future," he said.
The 31-year-old, now pursuing an online course in Java programming, noted that there are many courses that Singaporeans can use the credits for. "It is a small encouragement for people to go out there and upgrade themselves," he said.
One of the SkillsFuture drive's main goals is to help Singaporeans adapt and stay relevant in the face of global uncertainty.
Last October, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singaporeans should take downturns in their stride and soldier on.
He urged Singaporeans to tap SkillsFuture schemes to prepare to switch jobs or industries as the economy shifts - "to learn, unlearn and relearn things all your life".
Courses eligible for the scheme rose steadily from more than 10,000 last January to over 18,000 by December last year. These are offered by more than 700 training providers.
SSG said it will continue to identify and bring on board "high-quality training providers".
These include graduate business school Insead and online platforms Udacity and edX, all of which will be offering courses eligible for the SkillsFuture Credit within the next few months.
The SkillsFuture Credit scheme is only one part of the Government's plan to get Singaporeans to think about lifelong learning.
There is a plethora of initiatives under the SkillsFuture umbrella. SkillsFuture Credit cost about $37 million last year, compared with SkillsFuture funding of about $400 million every year.
Said Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung: "SkillsFuture Credit has been a very useful tool to raise the awareness of Singaporeans to take charge of their own skills upgrading. But it is a small part of a much larger system to support lifelong learning."
National University of Singapore economics lecturer Kelvin Seah said the SkillsFuture Credit scheme's uptake "signals that people are receptive to acquiring new skills and knowledge that could potentially help them perform better in their existing and future jobs".
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.