Why Learn When It May Be Irrelevant Tomorrow?
Why Learn When It May Be Irrelevant Tomorrow?
In today's digital age, the majority of jobs in Singapore requires one to be comfortable with technology on a certain level. But with everything advancing so quickly and skills turning irrelevant, what’s the point of learning when what we intend to learn may be outdated tomorrow?
Howie Lim: You recently wished to have the Skills Future credits topped up, why is that so?
Patrick Tay: The Skills Future credits encourages individual-initiated training and Singaporeans to have a spirit of lifelong learning. For those who have used it, I've been hearing quite a lot of feedback from them that they wish they had more. Some of them have already maxed out [their credits] and they have been sharing [that] we can we do more because they want to take up a second skill beyond what [they] already know. Unfortunately, [it] wasn't in Budget 2019 [but] I’ll continue to lobby for it, particularly for those [who have] benefited from it. One big group [who have benefitted] are the freelance and self-employed people because they don't have a company to sponsor them for the training. So [it] depends on themselves to undergo individual-initiated training.
Howie Lim: Let's talk about job seekers here in Singapore, there are more vacancies than seekers in December 2018, is that good news for job seekers?
Patrick Tay: Definitely good news. However, my concern would be the mismatches [finding the right person equipped with the right skills for the job]. We have lots of openings and jobs [for instance], in the info-comm technology and the media sector, but we can’t find the people with the skills and experience to take up those jobs. Purely because those jobs require very highly specialised deep skills and therefore the slew of our programmes will nudge employers to help them and facilitate [the] hiring of Singaporeans.
Howie Lim: Talk to us as well about people being laid off because they didn't have the relevant skills.
Patrick Tay: I think there's quite a bit of a digital transformation and digitalisation going on. So it does not just affect one industry, it affects many industries. But of course, some industries are affected more. [Majority of it] came from the services sector because they are heavily impacted by technology as well as robotisation, mechanisation and digitalisation. So, you’ll see the majority of numbers in terms of retrenchments [contributed by] the services sector.
Howie Lim: Patrick, talk to us about your work in the future jobs area. Are you finding people still resisting lifelong learning or the mindset to learn for a lifetime?
Patrick Tay: We did a few dipsticks surveys. Essentially, we found that people are aware of the disruption of technological advances so awareness is very high. But I think the call to action is to take action. You know, that your industry has been disrupted, your company has been disrupted. We need to take action. So, therefore, the Labour Movements [has been] working closely with various companies, hopefully, to encourage them to take concrete and resolute action to skill up their staff.
Howie Lim: What does concrete and resolute action look like?
"Identify the new skills needed and send your employees for training so that they can still move on with the company in the new role."
Patrick Tay: There are programmes for those in the unionised environment. The Labour Movement has already sounded the clarion call to form company training committees to encourage their workers and bring everyone along in that lifelong learning and continuous educational training journey. For those that are not unionised, they can work with us through our various channels and network. I think the key is for companies to know what are today’s demands for jobs within the industry. Identify the new skills needed and send your employees for training so that they can still move on with the company in the new roles.
Howie Lim: What about from the perspective of companies that are not embracing lifelong learning or sending their staffs for training?
"it’s important too for companies, businesses, employers and HR departments to realize that it's a journey. You can't stop it. It's like a treadmill, you have to keep up."
Patrick Tay: It’s always a difficult journey because when you're not doing well, money is tight and you [can’t afford it]. On the other hand, when business is good, you're so busy [running the] daily operations and [you] forget that you need to continue upgrading our workforce to stay relevant. So I think it's a balance. I think it’s important too for companies, businesses, employers and HR departments to realise that it's a journey. You can't stop it. It's like a treadmill, you have to keep up.
Howie Lim: Something you learned 10 years ago today is irrelevant. But now, something we learned five years ago is irrelevant.
Patrick Tay: You need to be constantly [upgrading yourself] with the new technology and new stuff coming up in the market. Some of the new technologies, new apps, new platforms, new bugs that are happening, they're happening so quickly. So, therefore, we need everyone to skill up to keep up with some of these very rapid changes.
Howie Lim: What’s the point of learning when technology advances so quickly and what I intend to learn may be irrelevant tomorrow?
"We need to be aware of what are the skills in demand so that you don't just train for the sake of training, but training for some of these jobs that are coming up."
Patrick Tay: We have set up future job skills and training capability in the Labour Movement. We try sector by sector, to look at what are the future skills in demand and then we get people trained up so that they can assume some of these future jobs that will come up. So I think that's the biggest challenge. We need to be aware of what are the skills in demand so that you don't just train for the sake of training, but training for some of these jobs that are coming up.
Watch the full interview as Patrick Tay breaks down Singapore's Labour Market Report in March this year:
Download the podcast here.
What are the experts' opinions on the advent of technology being the game changer in the working world?
Find out more as Patrick Tay, Assistant Secretary General of NTUC Singapore, Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad, Senior Vice President of SSA Consulting Pte Ltd & Jaime Lim, Country Director of PeopleSearch Pte Ltd joins Howie Lim for SPOTLIGHT: Career Disrupted.
Find out more here.
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