How I became a licensed private investigator in six days for just $62 – thanks to SkillsFuture
For about $60 and just six days of my time, I am now a licensed private investigator.
And it is all thanks to SkillsFuture.
The scheme was introduced in 2015 to spur lifelong learning and help Singaporean workers upgrade and acquire new skills at subsidised rates to stay relevant.
A year later, it was announced that every Singaporean from the age of 25 would get $500 credit to pay for approved courses.
Suddenly, everyone I know was talking about taking up IT courses or attending a baking class.
There are many who are genuinely in need of a new skill or retraining, but I suspect there are others who are jumping on the bandwagon simply because it is free.
After all, if the Government gives "free money", you should take it, right?
I did some research and found that the top three areas of training are information and communications technology, food and beverage, and productivity and innovation.
But I wanted something different.
So I trawled the SkillsFuture portal, and found to my surprise, other courses including language, sports and even domestic cleaning.
That was how I came across the private investigator course.
The Information Collection (Perform Investigation Activities in Compliance with Legal Requirements) course included a Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) certificate upon completion.
The full fee, inclusive of tax, for the course conducted over six days with a competency assessment, would have been close to $1,000.
But thanks to SkillsFuture, I paid $0 for the course itself. The course is subsidised under the SkillsFuture Funding scheme, resulting in a fee of just $255, which I paid in full using part of the $500 SkillsFuture credits, leaving me with a balance of $245 in my account.
I registered in October last year, paying a $23 registration fee to NTUC Learning Hub which, sadly, could not be paid with SkillsFuture credits.
Taking a week of leave from work, I attended the classes at the Devan Nair Institute of Employment and Employability at Jurong in November.
My classmates were an interesting mix of people, from the law and security sectors to retirees. Food and drinks were provided.
I passed the competency assessment on the sixth day with most of my classmates, though some failed.
In a matter of weeks, I was issued the WSQ certificate and applied to become a private investigator on the LicenceOne portal for $16.
The Police Licensing and Regulatory Department approved my application on Jan 3. A week later, I went to the Union of Security Employees at Jalan Sultan and paid $23 to have my photo taken and card made.
And just like that, on Jan 10 and at the age of 27, I became a licensed private investigator. In all, I had spent $62.
Sure, I learnt lots of things in my course and am confident of my new skills, but I couldn't help feeling a bit like a fraud, having paid just $62 to get to where I am. Who would hire me?
But it got me thinking about how many more skills I could pick up.
Just yesterday, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced an additional top-up of $500 in SkillsFuture credits for those aged 25 and above.
Those aged between 40 and 60 get an additional $500 on top of the extra $500 given this round.
It is like everyone won a small Toto group prize without even stepping into a Singapore Pools outlet.
But the minister also revealed that only about 530,000 Singaporeans have used their credits since 2016.
This time though, the credits expire by end 2025. So if you don't use your credits, it will be like you won a Toto prize but were too lazy to collect your winnings even after five years.
So to all the kiasu Singaporeans who rushed to buy masks and toilet paper due to the coronavirus outbreak, this is your chance to channel your energy in the right direction.
Learn a new skill. Upgrade yourself. Stay relevant.
You and Singapore will be better off for it.