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Budget 2020: (Learn To Earn) Best SkillsFuture Training Courses for SMEs – Enhanced Training Support & Absentee Payroll

Jennifer Tjahyadi
May 6, 2020

In response to the tightened circuit breaker measures, several learning academies and organizations have designed online courses to help SMEs and their employees tackle the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, the government rolled out the Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP) and Enhanced Absentee Payroll (EAP) to encourage employers to make use of the downtime to send their workers for training.

The ETSP is part of the Stabilisation and Support Package in the Budget 2020. It provides funding to SMEs in selected sectors who send their employees for training that commencing before 1st Jan 2021. Such training concentrates on priority and emerging skills that the sector needs (e.g. customer experience innovation, productivity management).

From 1st May 2020, the Enhanced Absentee Payroll (EAP) has been extended to all sectors. Employers who send their employees for training on selected courses by SkillsFuture Singapore-appointed CET Centres or certifiable courses by other SkillsFuture Singapore-approved training providers will be able to obtain 90% of the hourly basic salary, capped at $10 per hour.

Some of the online courses are free, others are funded by the above support packages, while the rest are chargeable. For more information on whether the courses selected are eligible for the ESTP or EAP, please consult your training provider. Check out SkillsConnect for more details on how to apply, and claim training grants and Absentee Payroll.

We list the academies and platforms that SMEs can use during this period:

1. SME Leadership Academy (Google and UOB)

Google and UOB have collaborated with SME Leadership Academy to offer SMEs in the retail, tourism and F&B sectors with free online training programmes in the form of webinars.

SMEs and their employees will be able to learn how to use online collaboration tools that facilitate remote work, online marketing, business recovery processes, etc from experienced individuals in their respective fields. These programmes will also cover sector-specific trends, as well as topics on how to manage the workforce and business during this period. 

2. DBS Business Class

The DBS Business Class is a platform and community designed for SMEs who want to keep abreast of the current news in the SME sector, as well as deals and events hosted by DBS. In the light of the pandemic, DBS has prepared a series of videos at DBS SME Academy that covers all facets of a business (e.g. HR, marketing, management, etc.) to help SME owners navigate their way through this period.

SMEs can also get a copy of the COVID-19 Guide, which is a compilation of relief measures in place, both on the state and bank level.

3. NTUC LearningHub

NTUC LearningHub has curated a range of over 100 free courses that cater to most industry amateurs and professionals. SMEs can sign up on its Lifelong Learning Portal to choose the topics that interest them (e.g. design & animation, compliance, computer science and engineering, etc). These courses are free to sign up for until 12th June 2020.

Apart from that, NTUC also offers Adaptive Skill, Technical Skill and Technology Skill courses that are chargeable and come with a certificate upon completion. The cost of the courses varies and the pricing can be found on each course page.

For more information on the courses, you can make an appointment to speak with a Virtual Assistant here.

4. The Isolation Economy

The Isolation Economy is the subject of a 15-hour online course offered by the Singapore Management University. Headed by Ivan Chang, a co-opted councillor of SGTech and former executive chairman of Wonder Group, the courses are tailored for people in the F&B industry, which have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Through these courses, participants are encouraged to think of ways to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic for the next 6-18 months ahead. They will be taught how to make full use of government grants and schemes to stay afloat; and how to harness technology to take their businesses online. The course fee is $1,712, but with government grants or SkillsFuture credits, eligible Singaporeans can pay as little as $113.60.

In the SME Toolbox section, SMEs can have access to solutions and third-party vendors that are offering data protection, e-commerce solutions, and more.

5. LinkedIn

If you are a LinkedIn user, you can get a personalized range of courses based on your LinkedIn profile. Answer some questions here on the topics you are interested in, select the skills you want to develop and set a weekly goal on your learning to keep you on track.

These courses come in the form of bite-sized videos (15mins) and longer webinars (120 mins). You can pose your question on the Q&A section of the video and engage in stimulating discussions with other viewers. There are also quizzes, exercise files, and other online resources to spice things up.

Choose from over 15,000 courses, with new ones added weekly. Get on board with their one-month free trial (usual $39.99/mth) and learn how to manage your business during this period from experts in your industry.


According to Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Chan Chun Sing on 3rd May, working from home will continue to be the new normal even after the end of the circuit breaker. It is of great importance that SMEs come together during this unprecedented period of isolation, be it through collaborative learning or business partnerships.

As much as possible, upskill your employees and equip them with the necessary skills to assimilate into the post COVID-19 era. In this way, you can regain your company’s position of strength and capitalize on the upswing when the economy recovers.

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About the author

Jennifer loves helping SMEs in their business growth journey. She is also an epicurean and has perpetual wanderlust. During the weekend, she weaves poems out of thin air and buries herself in books.

Budget 2020
Training Courses
Enhanced Training Support
Absentee Payroll
The Isolation Economy

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