TL;DR – To be in a position to be able to help someone regain their hope and confidence, it is priceless.
“The pace of change and the threat of disruption creates tremendous opportunities.”
― Steve Case
The pandemic continues to batter almost every industry. With it comes many job losses, and many employees and jobseekers are seeing – for the first time – the skills gap they have to cover in order to move on to another job. To increase competitiveness as an employee or jobseeker, the current workforce is starting to recognise that it is essential for them to enhance their skills and learn something new.
The question is: Are you one of them?
In this uncertain economic climate, let’s just say that upskilling is more of a NEED rather than an option.
Keen to find out how receptive Singaporeans are to reskilling and upskilling as well as the opportunities out there, I reached out to Mr Jeremy Lim, Course Consultant from NTUC LearningHub to understand more. To my delight, the friendly gentleman scheduled a Zoom session to help me understand more about his role and his organisation has been joining in the national efforts to upskill the Singaporean workforce.
In his role as a Course Consultant, Jeremy helps workers from Rank-and-file workers, Self-Employed Person (SEPs) to Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) to understand their current skill gaps. Should they be open, he also recommends suitable training that can help them become gainfully employed and better poised to grab future opportunities.
With the unpredictability of the job market now, people must be taking the idea of upskilling more seriously – hopefully?
Jeremy shared that there is indeed more of a mindset shift now as compared to last year. People are definitely more open-minded to upskilling and taking up more courses, after all, the disruption is real.
Since the Circuit Breaker measures set in, many have found themselves with more time on their hands. There are also those who are starting to recognise the vulnerabilities of their industries, and are looking for a career switch.
The top up of credits under the SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package also played a part. In his Budget speech in Feb 2020, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that as one part of a new SkillsFuture Mid-Career Support Package, mid-career workers in their 40s and 50s will receive $1,000 in SkillsFuture Credit this year. This serves to help this vulnerable group of locals stay employable and move to new roles.
“The SkillsFuture Credit Top-up does encourage Singaporeans to take ownership in upgrading their skillsets and being well-placed to seize opportunities as the economy picks up,” Jeremy added.
What’s a typical course consultation like?
Jeremy shared how he often sees people coming in feeling lost sometimes, they will tell him things like ‘I don’t know where to go from here… What can I work as? How can I improve?’ To that, he tries his best to guide them step by step during a consultation.
“Where does your passion lie? Are you open to new opportunities, or even starting over in a different area?” these are some of the questions he asks them.
Since the Circuit Breaker measures kicked in, NTUC LearningHub has successfully switched to virtual course consultation, keeping in mind the safety of trainees.
Jeremy deems it his responsibility to set realistic expectations for trainees, what they can expect from the training and what are the areas they can consider switching to if needed. That said, he shared how he can understand how a professional with decades of experience will be resistant to reskill or prompted to upskill.
Indeed, at some point in our careers, I’m sure we all have meet highly-skilled individuals who simply can’t take advice. Ahem. Unfortunately, in the face of the current economic climate, many industries have been badly hit, and many jobs disrupted. Employers have been urged by the Government and the Labour Movement to view Singaporeans favourably when hiring and retain citizens over foreigners if retrenchment cannot be avoided. Well, this also means that Singaporeans have the responsibility to make sure that our skills are kept relevant so that we are better than the next guy!
Self-employed Persons (SEPs) are not left out too! The NTUC Training Fund (SEPs) now allows SEPs to earn as they train!
So many courses out there, what could we consider, and why?
Being a firm believer in lifelong learning, Jeremy often tries to convince friends in his personal network to upgrade their skillsets as well.
“For example, NTUC LHUB teamed up with GO1 to launch over 100 free online courses. I’ve shared some of these with my friends and family. While some are receptive, there will be others who tell me that they already are, for example, using Excel day in day out. Honestly, I think not many of us are utilising the full spectrum of the OfficeSuite to maximise our office productivity!”
“What are the current career trends? What are in-demand skills employers are looking for?” these are questions that Jeremy gets often and he appreciates when trainees have these in mind as they look to upskill or even reskill themselves.
Psst, hear it from the expert: Courses in Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and Project Management are the current popular ones with PMETs. According to Jeremy, these are skills that are extremely relevant for the current and future economy.
In the last couple of years, we have witnessed numerous cyber-attacks.
Demand for cybersecurity professionals has been on the rise to fill roles in security management, and incident and crisis management in Singapore. With the cybersecurity sector booming, being equipped with the right skills and knowledge in this area would help trainees gain a foot in the industry.
The importance of data analytics skills is only going to become more important in the future as more organisations jump onto the bandwagon. In today’s world, data analytics allows companies to carefully examine information and, for example, get a sense on what’s doing well and what isn’t. With such a boom in the use of analytics, having the skills required to work with data is fast becoming a necessity.
Courses in Project Management provides you with additional knowledge, skills, techniques in order to be more successful in managing or delivering projects. For a PMET looking to enhance his / her career development prospects, this will be invaluable to help build skills in organisation, leadership and high-level thinking.
The courses offered by NTUC LearningHub are not limited to those for PMETs. One popular course is the security training course suitable for security officers looking to enhance their job advancement opportunities. Note that the security sector is one of the 3 sectors currently where Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) are covered under the Progressive Wage Model.
Jeremy recalled an encounter with a senior gentleman who was on the lookout for a job urgently last year and he had recommended a Security course for him. In December 2019, the gentleman started on the security officer course, and is now gainfully employed as a Security Officer!
Taxi/Private Hire Driver Vocational Licence Course
NTUC LearningHub is appointed by Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA) as one of the Training Providers for taxi and private hire car drivers. The courses offered through the Private Hire Car Driver Vocational Licence Course and Taxi Driver Vocational Licence Course allow trainees to embark on the licensed driving profession through a combination of classroom coaching and self-study programme.
Most satisfying part of Jeremy’s role as a Course Consultant?
One of the very first things Jeremy shared with me was about Uncle Tan (name changed to protect identity) who had undergone training through his recommendation and is now in a role of a security officer that he relishes. He recalled how Uncle Tan called him just to update him about the day he made $200 at an event with a hotel. The uncle has since become somewhat of a friend who will update him on his job, and the wonderful people he met through the newly placed role.
“This is the most satisfying part of my job – to help people gain new skills, and watch their lives transform.”
Following a jobseeker’s journey, from feeling lost to seeing how they regain their confidence with new relevant skillsets, getting new jobs and their lives on track – one can only imagine the satisfaction the role as a Course Consultant brings to Jeremy.
The pandemic has brought disruptions to many people’s livelihoods. Due to the pandemic, many have lost their jobs, many are concerned about the shakiness of their current roles and many more who felt stuck in their situations. To be able to help someone find back their hope and confidence amidst the doom and gloom, it is priceless.
Indeed, Jeremy’s joy shone through as he brought the conversation back a couple of times to the many individuals, including Uncle Tan, who though his course recommendations, successfully upskilled or reskilled and emerged with newfound confidence in their new roles.
Going the Extra Mile
“There are those who just pop by our branches and sales centres with no specific courses in mind. I’d then share with them the experiences of my other trainees and how different skillset enhancements have value-added to their lives. I believe it is always good to learn a new skill. Learning is never wasted, regardless of age. I genuinely believe in that, and that’s what I try to share with people around me,” Jeremy shared.
The relationships he has built with these trainees are invaluable. He shared how some of them often text him asking for advice, or purely to share their joy in their new roles!
Hardly surprising that Jeremy has built such strong rapport with his trainees. Often Jeremy goes the extra mile to introduce more resources to help. Other than helping them to identify skill gaps, career advice, he has also shared resources on support grants, job matching, anything he deems suitable to help trainees in difficult circumstances regain their footing.
“Many of them have become my friends – I’m just happy to help where I can,” he added cheerfully.
It does sound like a really meaningful role, Jeremy!