Upskilling has several well-known benefits; it helps us find new professional opportunities, unlocks hidden passions, and allows us to understand and expand our mental and physical limits. But as with many things, upskilling is easier when you have the financial resources. In most cases, that is. While many popular educational options require tuition and fees, in Singapore, many recognised certificate courses are state-subsidised or only require reasonable fees. Additionally, a growing body of free high-quality educational options may be useful for those looking to supplement their practical skill sets. Here are a few such options and strategies you can use to ramp up your skills and knowledge without breaking the bank:
1.) Take Short Courses
If you’re based in Singapore, you’ve got plenty of options for improving your skills and learning new ones. One popular option is SkillsFuture Credit courses. These are government-sponsored short courses designed to help new and experienced professionals develop new skills, thereby creating value in the country’s thriving innovation ecosystem.
While there are other certificate courses out there, SkillsFuture courses are especially popular because of the quality of the education and the convenience of the schedules. Additionally, Singaporean citizens enjoy generous subsidies for SkillsFuture course fees—specifically through the SkillsFuture Credit programme, where individuals 25 years or older receive an opening credit of SGD 500— making them well worth considering over the many adult education alternatives.
2.) Take Online Classes
Singapore enjoys some of the fastest internet speeds in the world, making online classes an especially viable alternative to in-person classes. If the skills you want aren’t covered on SkillsFuture, you’re likely to find excellent free courses that cover it online.
Free online courses on a wide range of subjects are available from sites like Coursera, LinkedIn, Udemy, and many other trusted sources. You can also find courses related to more esoteric topics at reasonable prices.
Many of these online courses are put together by experienced educators who teach at some of the world’s top universities and institutions. What’s more, some of these courses offer legitimate certifications that are widely recognised in Singapore.
3.) Schedule Time to Cultivate Your Skills
If you have a skill that you want to practice, make sure you have a set time to do them.
When you have unscheduled free time, chances are you will gravitate towards low-effort activities rather than the things you want to practice. Even worse, you might even start believing that you actually don’t have enough time to practice, which is rarely true for most people.
Having a scheduled time to practice will allow you to maintain the proper pacing, motivation, and life balance you need to sustainably improve your skills. It will also enable you to be more strategic about your study and practice time so that it does not interfere with your personal and professional life.
4.) Avoid Passive Hobbies — Try Active Hobbies Instead
Passive hobbies are hobbies that involve minimal mental, physical, or social engagement. Casually playing video games, binge-watching shows on Netflix, and shopping are examples of highly popular “passive” hobbies. There is nothing wrong with enjoying passive hobbies occasionally. Unfortunately, for many people, those occasions are practically every single weekend and holiday.
Instead of a passive hobby, why not try a more active hobby instead? Active hobbies are about creating lasting value for yourself and others, and all of them will require you to develop skills in the process. Examples of active hobbies include participating in service organisations, exercise, playing a musical instrument, writing in-depth articles, cooking unfamiliar cuisines, starting a side business, and engaging in DIY projects.
To benefit, you will need to commit to practising an active hobby in place of a passive hobby. While getting started might be tough, most active hobbies do give a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. If you find one that you like, chances are, you won’t want to give it up.
5.) Ask Your Employer about Upskilling Opportunities
A lot of workplaces offer free or subsidised educational benefits and upskilling opportunities. Additionally, a growing number also offer cross-training programmes where employees can train in departments and teams that they are not a part of.
These can all be excellent ways to expand your skill set while simultaneously improving your CV’s value on the job market. The best thing about most of these programmes is that the employer will handle at least some of the time and financial costs, making it somewhat easier to upskill while holding down a regular job.
Ask your supervisor or HR team if there are any available programmes that you could take advantage of. Even if there are no programmes currently available, chances are, your efforts to expand your professional skills will be appreciated.
6.) Follow the Right Influencers
While the vast majority of popular social media influencers just produce substance-free content for advertisers, there are a few true thought leaders out there who provide valuable insights and instruction in specific areas.
In recent years, YouTube has emerged as a leading platform for these high-quality educational influencers. The site’s format and the way it promotes long-form video content have made it an invaluable supplemental tool for people seeking to improve their skills and knowledge in different areas.
Generally speaking, you want to follow influencers who offer a decent amount of original long-form educational content. You’ll want to avoid those who are focused on short clips, trends, or thinly veiled product promotions. You also must be aware of any biases or conflicts of interest a video educator may have, particularly if they weigh in on controversial topics.
Build Your Skill Set on a Budget
If you want to build your skill set for not too much money, recognised certification courses like those offered on the SkillsFuture Series are likely to be your best option. If you’re interested in learning for its own sake and are not too concerned about certificates, you’ll find plenty of great online and offline sources to help with your learning goals.
Outside of choosing quality education sources, you also want to have a strategy for ensuring that your learning experience is sustainable, economical, and fruitful. This will help you make the most of your upskilling efforts and may, hopefully, put you on a path to fulfilment and lifelong learning.
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