Embarking on a reskilling and upskilling journey can be overwhelming. It takes a leap of faith to reskill which can feel like venturing into uncharted territory. It may mean moving out of your comfort zone.
The latest unemployment numbers released by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has joblessness reaching a decade-high. Economists are predicting that the worst isn’t over.
Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that while the pandemic is reshaping economies and labor markets globally, job seekers should remain hopeful.
“There are new opportunities if we change our minds about what are good jobs, and be prepared to undergo training, be prepared to persevere, and continue to look for good opportunities,” said Heng.
Never too old to learn
Singapore is not alone as its workforce faces this major pivot. In neighboring Malaysia, many who lost their jobs because of COVID-19 are also faced with having to pivot.
Chris Hew, 42, a former business development manager in the travel industry, was fired from her job in Malaysia when the pandemic hit. After the initial shock, Hew decided to move forward by taking digital marketing courses.
In an interview with Channel News Asia, Hew said she was inspired by a classmate in their 60’s who “always tell us that you are never too old to learn.”
As Asia navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, EdTech players have embraced opportunities to support the mindset of lifelong learning in the training and reskilling sector.
Work on an employment readiness platform was announced by Kydon Group, a Singapore-based digital learning solutions provider. Kydon is leading a consortium of partners who won Singapore’s EduTech Alliance challenge to tackle the unemployment issue in the city-state.
“Given the unemployment numbers, we want to tell Singaporeans that we are rallying like-minded partners to expedite a skills learning employability solution to help them qualify for available jobs and adapt to a changing economy,” said David Yeo, founder and CEO of Kydon Group.
Yeo said Kydon is using its learning networking disruptor ZilLearn for this initiative. ZilLearn offers content creation tools for educators and institutions to digitize courses into targeted learning channels for mobile learning. AI and big data capabilities will crawl through more than one billion global job descriptions.
Kydon participated in Hack-A-Future workshop organized Singapore’s EduTech Alliance that included JobTech, the job insights generator; SMU Academy, the professional training arm of the Singapore Management University (SMU); TaF.tc, Singapore’s first Continuing Education & Training (CET) center for the textile and fashion industry; and SkillsFuture SG (SSG), a government agency.
“We are excited to contribute to this worthwhile endeavor to help Singapore by leveraging our AI and big data capabilities,” said Wee-Tiong Ang, CEO of JobTech, one of the consortium partners.
“We generate demand data findings from crawling through more than one billion global job descriptions that are continually refreshed. We support government agencies to assess the jobs market and economy, and we enable companies to evaluate their staff skills profiles to identify training needs.”
Lifelong learning mindset
Upskilling and reskilling shouldn’t be a response to retrenchment or unemployment. A mindset of lifelong learning — for fresh graduates and those currently in jobs — is needed to remain prepared and relevant for the future of work. Having support from employers and the government for continuous learning to take place is also paramount.
For several years prior to this unprecedented crisis, the Singapore government was already making efforts to strengthen the ecosystem of upskilling, reskilling, and lifelong learning through initiatives such as SkillsFuture which provides training subsidies.
Singapore has intensified this workforce upskilling and reskilling effort in the new normal. Key trends were identified in the SkillsFutureSG publication “Re-Imagining the Way We Live, Work, and Learn Post-COVID.”
“Human resources leaders tell us that since COVID-19, organizations are more aware of their role in engendering a culture that is conducive to talent development,” said Jaime Lim, Group Business Leader of PeopleSearch Singapore, in her comments in Singapore Business Review.
“However, there is room to go much further. For one thing, more needs to be done to ensure that employees’ training and development choices are congruent with evolving business needs,” Lim said.
For Singapore’s employment readiness platform, skills acquisition will be drawn from approximately 100,000 courses, ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate courses offered in tertiary institutions and partnering with adult learning providers’ courses.
Personal learning pathways will be charted with a combination of online, offline and blended courses along with full-length courses, microlearning and micro-credentialing.
Kydon said that the first phase of the employment readiness platform will help Singaporeans identify their skill sets, employment market needs, and their need to advance or switch careers.
Currently, Kydon is in talks with education institutions and businesses to onboard them as industry partners by the official launch. In the future, companies and organizations can also integrate their existing learning and training content with the platform, to upskill and reskill employees as well as recruit new employees.
“COVID has accelerated our readiness for online upskilling as well as working professionals’ openness to virtual, bite-sized competency training,” said Lim Lai Cheng, Executive Director of SMU.
“SMU is excited to be part of this enterprise to curate and deliver more of such just-in-time learning as well as training in emerging technologies and associated skills to ensure our working adults are career resilient, agile, and responsive to changes in the industry.”