Enjoy up to 95% subsidy by Singapore government when you send your staff to dedicated ETS training

Latest WDA initiative named Enhanced Training Support (ETS) gives generous incentives for employers to provide staffs with training – Up to 95% course fee subsidy!

What is Enhanced Training Support for SMEs?

The Enhanced Training Support (ETS) is an initiative introduced in October 2015 by the Government to motivate Singapore SME owners to have their employees trained for a better-equipped workforce, as prior studies have shown SMEs being less likely to train their employees, citing financial constraints. Since its rollout since late 2015, numerous SMEs have benefited from the scheme, with staffs attending qualified Continuing Education and Training (CET) courses at Polytechnics or ITE, and all certifiable courses supported by the Workforce Development Agency.

Employers are encouraged to send their staffs for training and skills upgrading, with the Government subsidizing some 90% of course fees (some cases up to 95%) and an absentee payroll of up to 80% of employee’s basic hourly salary. In this article, we look closer into the relevant courses for employees, subsidy details, eligibility as an employer, and how you could apply for the funding.

Type of courses your staff may attend

Under SkillsConnect, there are 2 types of courses available where your staff may attend. There include:

  1. Courses accredited under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) system
  2. Courses that are non-WSQ but funded by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA).

The WSQ system is based on national standards that were developed by the WDA. This system is designed to ensure training, development, and assessment of individual skills that companies seek from employees.

Certifiable courses supported by WDA

There is a good variety of certifiable courses within WDA portal offered through training centres across Singapore that cater to needs from multiple industries – Accounting, marketing, engineering, F&B, hotels, MICE, procurement and travel, you name it. Courses are also categorized by different levels, suiting staffs at different positions from operational to supervisory to managerial.

For instance, there’s a 16-hour course within Information and Communication area showing how to ‘Demonstrate Understanding of Concepts of IT Security’, available through Genetic Computer School.

If you’re into design, the course ‘3D Printing for Rapid Product Development’ by through the Singapore Centre for 3D printing that leverage on Nanyang Technology University’s existing competency could be for you.

Academic CET courses at the polytechnics and ITE 

WDA has established Continuing Education Training (CET) centres to deliver effective training for adults. These centres offer a good array of WSA courses covering industries like tourism, hospitality, retail, finance, security, and culinary among others.  

For instance, if you’re getting your staff to learn how to increase sales and reduce cost of post-sales support, the Capelle Academy has a “Service Excellence” course specialising on it. Other interest courses include one by the Social Service Institute that provides training on social service or special education for new entrants, mid-career switchers, or social service practitioners.

Benefits to your staff

While employers are incentivised financially to provide training to their staff, there’re numerous tangible advantages that trainees could bring back to employers, including:

1.    Developing a skilled workforce

2.    Improving management and performance systems in the company

3.    Keeping pace of ever-changing industry requirements

4.    Establishing career paths for employees and boost retention

5.    Improving employees job descriptions

How much employers could reimburse – The rules

In the enhanced training support scheme, employers who send their staffs to trainings are further incentivised with higher course fee subsidy, and higher absentee payroll than in the normal scheme.

A - Increased course fee subsidy: Up to 90%

In the enhanced scheme, employers who send their normal staff (non-PMEs) for training can reimburse 90% of course fee for certifiable courses as a subsidy, capped at $25 per hour. In-house certificate training subsidy is also doubled from $7 per hour to $15.

For managers or PMEs (in case you are new to PME, please see our extensive guide on PME here), course fee subsidiary cap is greatly increased, from $15 per hour to $50.

B – Higher absentee payroll: From $4.5 per hour to $7.5 per hour

On top of course subsidy, as an employer you could also claim back 80% of employees’ hourly rate as an incentive, with previous cap at $4.5 per hour increased to $7.5 per hour.

How much out of pocket expense you shall expect to pay for a $300 vs $1,500-course? 

To illustrate: If you send staff A (who is not a manager or PME) to attend a 8-hour social media training course at $300 SGD approved by the WDA, your subsidy will be: $200 SGD.


How it is calculated – Course fee of $300 * 90% = $270. But since for non-PMEs it’s capped at $25 per hour, i.e. $25 * 8 = $200 for 8 hours. However, if you are sending your staff B (a manager / PME) to the same course, the hourly cap at $50 per (i.e. $400 cap for 8-hour course) would allow you to reimburse the full 90% subsidy of $270.

Now onto the absentee payroll for this 8-hour course: Let’s assume staff A has a monthly salary of $1,200 (roughly $7 per hour), and staff B (who is a PME) has a monthly salary of $3,500 (roughly $20 per hour), you could claim back:

For staff A: $7 hourly rate * 80% * 8-hours =  $44.8 SGD.

For staff B: $7.5 hourly rate (Max of cap) * 80% * 8-hours = $48.0 SGD

I.e. After subsidies, your out of pocket expense for this $300 course would be:

For staff A: $300 – 200 (cost fee subsidy) – 44.8 (absentee payroll) = $55.2 (82% subsidy)

For staff B: $300 – 270 (full 90% cost fee subsidy) – 48 = Free training!

For a more advanced course, priced at $1,500 (8-hour) for instance, your out of pocket expense is only:

For staff A: $1,500 – 200 (cost fee subsidy) -  44.8 = $1255 (16% subsidy)

For staff B: $1,500 – 400 (cost fee subsidy) -  48 = $1,052 (30% subsidy)

In this sense, you could understand the Government does give heavy incentive for training your managerial level staff to improve their efficiency and management skills.  However, they’re not neglecting lower-salaried staff here. Effective from July 2013, under the Workforce Training Support (WTS) scheme, employers who sponsor staffs aged 35 years and above who earns up to $1,900 a month could enjoy a higher course fee subsidy, at 95%, for WSQ courses, Certifiable Skills Training courses supported by the WDA and MOE academic CET courses.

Either-way, the generous support across all levels of staffs could easily ease employers financial burden by a quarter or more.

Would your company qualify for the scheme?

You firm would need to fulfil the following eligibility criteria to enjoy government funding. The employee too needs to meet the criteria set for them. The requirements include:

For the entity

  • The company should be either registered or Incorporated in Singapore
  • The company should have at least 30% local shareholding by Singaporean Citizen or Singaporean Permanent Resident
  • The company should have ground level employees or no more than 200 and ground level annual sales of not more than $100million

For employees

  • Employees who attend the trainings must be hired as per the Employment Act Regulations and should be fully sponsored by the company
  • Trainees have to be Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents

Applying for enhanced funding from WDA

After making sure you tick all the eligibility criteria, it’s time to file an application and reimburse your training fees! Application for the Enhanced Training Support is done through the SkillsConnect platform.

Do note that applications have to be filed within 30 days of completion of the course, or could be filed 30 days before the course commences instead.

Items required for the application include:

  • Training organization name
  • Course title
  • Course start and end date
  • Course duration components
  • Course free components
  • Trainee details (Name, NIRC, Citizenship, DOB, Education Qualification, Basic monthly salary, Hours worked per week)

The application requires filling in details on the SkillsConnect online page. The best hours to carry this out are weekdays during non-peak hours when the system is at its optimal. Try 9-11am or 3-5pm. WDA has different processing times for different applications and depending on the state of company as you can see below.

Below takes about 5-7 working days

  • Application for New Company or Non-WSQ Training Organisation Profiles
  • Update of Existing Company or Non-WSQ Training Organisation Profiles
  • Application for Training Grants
  • Disbursement of Claims

Below takes longer, from 10-30 working days

  • Claim for Approved Training Grants
  • Application for WSQ Training Organisation Accreditation
  • Application for WSQ Course Accreditation
  • Application for Pre-Approval of Courses for Funding

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