In an age of change, what matters is not what’s changing but how we respond to it. As the world of work continues to evolve, we need to deepen and broaden our skills to remain relevant and embark on new careers if necessary. To further the learning processes, several initiatives were announced in Budget 2017 which would help Singapore workers to stay ahead of the curve.
Increasingly, we may have heard of someone who has gone the extra mile to skill up.
It may be the engineer enrolling for evening classes to obtain a qualification in construction safety management, in order to broaden his skill sets.
The businessman who is taking Mandarin lessons so he can conduct business in China and broaden his market horizons.
Or the retrenched 50-something financial controller who managed to find a job in the social services sector after getting some help from a career coach.
We all want to do well in our careers. Sometimes, the impetus is self-driven but sometimes it comes in response to external change. Today, the pace of change seems faster than before, as advances in technology are disrupting traditional businesses and jobs.
However, change also presents opportunities for individuals who are willing to learn and adapt, and there are many such opportunities available.
“As the pace of change quickens, we will do more to help (our people) stay ahead.”
-- Heng Swee Keat
Minister for Finance
Deepening Skill Sets
Introduced at Budget 2015, SkillsFuture is a national movement to provide Singaporeans with the opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of which stage they are in life. Singaporeans can get support for skills mastery and lifelong learning through:
- Education and career guidance;
- Financial support for learning and training;
- Internship and training programs;
- New modes of learning; and
Singaporeans aged 25 and older can make use of their $500 credit to pay for over 18,000 available courses that are currently available.
As announced in Budget 2017, union members can get further subsidies for selected courses through the NTUC Education and Training Fund, for which a total of $150 million has been set aside.
In addition, more short, modular courses will be made available via the universities, polytechnics, and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). This would be of great help to busy working adults who may find it challenging to take extended time away from work, or find it a hassle to travel to a learning facility to attend courses. Over 500 skills-based modular courses were introduced in polytechnics and universities last year.
There will also be more e-learning options so learning can take place even at home or on the move, via mobile devices.
Here’s a good example:
As the saying goes, use it or lose it. Once new knowledge and skills are acquired, look out for opportunities to apply it.
We could do this on the job, by asking for greater challenges within the same company, or seek out a new job. In order to ensure that skilled workers are matched to where they can best use their skills, the National Jobs Bank will be transformed to become an online marketplace for jobs. It will also point vulnerable workers in industries under threat, to suggested careers which they can pursue.
The Government is also working with private placement firms to deliver better job matching services for professionals.
New Skills To Operate Overseas
Given the limited size of the Singapore market, firms and workers should adopt an international mindset. And there are many opportunities for exposure, networking, cultural immersion, and business opportunities beyond Singapore.
It may seem a tad overwhelming to have to step beyond the comfort zone of home, but there are many helping hands to guide us along.
The latest to be unveiled at Budget 2017 is the Global Innovation Alliance - a partnership between Singapore’s educational institutions, economic agencies and businesses – to help Singaporeans gain overseas experience, build networks, and collaborate with their overseas counterparts.
Within the alliance, the Innovators Academy gives tertiary students opportunities to build overseas connections, while Innovation Launchpads will be of great help to entrepreneurs and business owners who are seeking mentors, investors and service providers overseas. Welcome Centres will act as gateways for innovative foreign companies who want to link up with Singapore partners to co-innovate, test new products in Singapore, and expand in the region.
Firms that want to expand overseas can also tap on the SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative, which would provide some funding for them to groom Singaporean leaders who can help grow the business beyond Singapore in future.
Adapt To A New Job
What is arguably the biggest challenge is when workers have to try something new altogether, due to structural shifts in the economy. Today, telephone operators and typists are disappearing professions, and tomorrow, other categories of workers may be affected as well.
If there is a risk some of our jobs may be displaced due to technology, we have to pro-actively re-skill to be ready to switch to new jobs.
In 2016, the “Adapt and Grow” initiative was launched to help workers adapt to changing job demands and grow their skills.
Support for the initiative, which consists several programmes, will be strengthened this year. Workers can benefit from increased wage and training support provided under the Career Support Programme, the Professional Conversion Programme, and the Work Trial Programme. More information is available here.
A new “Attach and Train” initiative will train workers for sectors or industries which are not actively hiring yet, but which are projected to. The trained workers will then be able to fill up the jobs later, when the industry starts to develop.
The Power Is In Your Hands
“I attend at least one to two courses every year to learn about developments in new software and protocols and I use this new knowledge all the time. Continual learning is like saving money in the bank, except I am investing in myself to ensure I have a future.”
-- Marcus Loh, 46
While the Government, together with training providers, unions, research institutes and businesses, are joining hands to ensure that Singapore will continue to thrive, it is ultimately the personal drive from every worker which will power the effort.
Last updated on 13 Apr 2017