How to PIVOT your life and avoid having to downgrade HDB flat because of unemployment

TL;DR – Change is the only constant.

There was a story of a certain Ms Allyda, whose family had to downgrade from a 4-room HDB flat, because her husband lost his job.

Yes, it’s true, we don’t know the exact circumstances that led to her husband losing his job. We also don’t know what steps her husband took after he knew he was going to lose his job, if at all.

But there’s one thing we do know. Gone are the days where you work in one company your entire life. And we are also past the age where you can stay in one career your entire life. Now we live in an age where you can expect to work in multiple careers. We are in an age where we often have to pivot our careers.

Startups are familiar with this word – PIVOT. For startups, a pivot is a “structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth”. A startup pivots when a it pursues a new direction, leveraging on things that they have previously learnt. Famous pivots include YouTube and Instagram. When YouTube first started, it was video dating site. Instagram started as a check-in sort of game.

Similarly, we may find that we need to pivot our careers. But it’s never a good idea to pivot into something else blindly. Instead, to be successful in pivoting, you will need to assess and take stock of your skillset and aspirations, you will also need to do sufficient research, speak with people, find out if your assumptions are valid, etc etc etc.

Feeling overwhelmed already? There is help.

That sounds like a lot of work. It is.

But help is at hand. NTUC has recently launched a programme, aptly named the PIVOT Programme, to help working professionals upskill and move into future jobs.

PIVOT Programme by NTUC is a one-stop service to help Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) in the areas of community and network building, emotional support and re-skilling to better prepare them to be transited into a new job role or industry. (via)

Specifically, the PIVOT Programme also provides greater emotional support to working professionals facing transitions. It’s spearheaded by NTUC’s U Associate and supported by its U Associates across different industries, NTUC’s U PME Centre and NTUC’s e2i.

The programme aims to establish a strong support network. To do that, each participating U Associate will have a group of volunteers from the professional guilds or associations to support and share industry experiences with PIVOT participants who are keen to enter these industries. These volunteers have been trained by the Singapore Psychological Society to better interact and communicate with the PIVOT participants in a more empathetic manner.

Volunteers in the PIVOT programme (L-R) Peter Gwee, Chong Kee Sen, Alex Chua, and Jeffrey Pramudita. PIVOT currently features a strong community of over 60 industry volunteers from over 20 U Associates across 16 professional clusters to provide peer-to-peer support and share industry insights. (via)

Sounds good in theory. Does it work in reality?

We attended the first PIVOT industry talk that took place on 7th April to find out.

The first industry talk and networking session organised by PIVOT targeted at two industries. It was for people looking to join the IT or Civil Engineering sectors. Volunteers from the the civil engineering, IT service management, and IT security and control industries presented to the participants the macro-trends in their respective industries. They also told the participants what is need to join their respective industries.

Check out the schedule for future Industry Talks & Networking Sessions by PIVOT here

Lots of information, but could be better presented

The presentations by the volunteers was chock-full of information. Maybe too much information. And it didn’t help that the presentations weren’t well structured. Often, the presenters would just go through laundry lists of information, without being clear about why that information is important.  As a result, it got a bit hard to follow and pay attention to the presentations.

It would have been better if the presentations were kept succinct. Present only the least amount of information needed to help each participant answer these three questions:

  • Why should I even consider joining this industry?
  • If there are good reasons for joining this industry (e.g. it’s a growing industry with good career prospects), am I suitable for the industry?
  • Ok, I am suitable, so what must I do now to join the industry?

We suppose PIVOT being such a new initiative, and this being the first of such sessions, the organisers and volunteers are still trying to find their footing. Perhaps the presenters had thought ‘more info is better’, or perhaps NTUC did not know enough about the attendees to gauge their level of knowledge about these two industries and hence were not able to better brief the presenters. If the presentations were better structured, they would have been easier to follow and been more useful.

Conversations were rich and useful

After all the presentations were over, the participants went to network and talk to the volunteers from the various industries. Even though the presentations were too detailed and could have been improved, the conversations that the volunteers had with the participants were very useful and practical in comparison. The volunteers really engaged the participants, answering their questions patiently, and providing targeted information that the participants needed.

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Part of a longer journey

For participants who wanted more help in their pivoting process, they were also able to speak to the career coaches from U PME who were present at the session. These participants can also opt for peer-to-peer support. The PIVOT Programme can also help participants to find the relevant career preparatory courses and appropriate structured technical training.

All these are done with the eventual aim of helping the participants to secure good jobs in these growth industries. It’s a journey that goes beyond just a single information session. For the participants who are committed to this journey, we are hopeful that the PIVOT Programme can help them. And we are confident that the programme will keep getting better.

So, if you want to avoid being in a situation where you have to downgrade your HDB flat because of unemployment, you will need to pivot your career. And if so, we recommend that you check out this new PIVOT Programme!

(Cover image via)



Author: Jake Koh

Recovering sushi addict, I’m a man of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by his mystery.


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