TL;DR – The Labour Movement is getting Jedi senses!
We keep hearing that the economy today is increasingly VUCA. Wait. What’s VUCA? It stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.
That means that the economy is changing very much faster today than it did in the past. In the past, you can keep doing the same thing in the same old way for your entire life and it would be OK. In the past, you can get your degree, land a good job and actually stay in that same industry or even company and move up the rungs for your entire worklife.
What about today?
Well, because of technology, that cushy job you have may well be gone tomorrow.
And your job is gone not just because your company is suddenly not profitable anymore. Rather, it’s because the entire industry your company is in has been made irrelevant as a result of technological shifts. Or in some cases, it’s driven by the uberisation of things as it’s trendy to call it that these days.
If that’s the case, even if you find a similar job in another company, you will very quickly find yourself out of job again. After a few rounds, you will likely have to change industry and do a completely different job altogether.
That change will likely be painful. Especially if you leave it until you are out of job, and find out that your industry and skills are irrelevant. That’s why many PMETs who get retrenched recently find their quality of life adversely affected for a very long time. Many end up having to take on jobs which pay a lot less and end up stuck in a rut for a lot longer.
Basically there is a rather severe problem of skills mismatch happening. Well, there are jobs, but these are new jobs and what many out-of-job PMETs have yesterday’s skills.
It’s possible to minimise this pain
All this pain can be minimised, if only people who are employed today can start preparing to move into new jobs well BEFORE their current jobs become irrelevant. These new jobs may not even exist today. And those jobs may well be in quite a different industry.
This means that a person wanting to get into that new job may need to start training and preparing while he is working in his current job. It won’t be easy. But at least it would mean that that person won’t be in for a rude shock when his job becomes irrelevant. He won’t be caught off guard and left high and dry.
Instead, because he has already started training and preparing to transition into a new job, in a new sector that is a bright spot in the economy, he would be ready. He might not even ever be unemployed. He would just be moving from one job to another.
But, as we have written before, it’s not enough to just “anyhow whack” when it comes to skills upgrading. Not all skills upgrading training are made equal.
If one is looking to upgrade one’s skills with the aim of being prepared to transition into the bright spots of the economy, into industries and sectors that have good prospects, then one needs to know where these bright spots are. One has to know where the new growth sectors are, and which are the sunset industries to stay away from.
But how would anyone know where the bright spots are?
That’s where NTUC comes in. It has set up a new capability called the Future Jobs and Skills Training (FJST).
The FJST finds out from economic agencies like EDB, and SPRING Singapore which sectors are poised to grow in Singapore. It also gets information from NTUC’s extensive network of unions, associations, communities, touch points, social enterprises and tripartite partners. No wonder the FJST is described as the ‘strategic nerve centre’.
The FJST then analyses, corroborates and validates the information. FJST will then try to predict the exact skills and training needed for Singaporeans to tap the new opportunities as the economy changes.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay, who will be leading this new capability, says,
“The rate at which disruptions are impacting working people and businesses alike, is taking place at an accelerating rate. With the extensive network of the Labour Movement today, we are in a good position to be able to help facilitate the matching of jobs and skills of the future, and ensure that our workforce is able to ride these waves of change.
At the same time, I urge workers and employers to keep an open mind, and be aware of the three attributes required to help the workforce of tomorrow into tomorrow’s jobs – adaptability, agility and ability.
This capability is like… a Jedi’s senses. Or Spider-man’s sixth sense!
And just like how Jedis and Spider-man seem to have lightning quick reflexes, this capability should allow NTUC to help workers transition into new jobs in the bright spots of the economy in a timely, seamless and hopefully, painless manner.
FJST is set to start operating at full steam come 2017. It would be interesting to see how it works out. If done well, this will go a long way to help Singaporeans stay ahead of the curve, even as the economy gets even more VUCA.