We all know that the job market is changing – fast. Gone are pensions, guaranteed yearly increments, and staying in the same industry for your entire career. In their place, the gig economy, millennial careers, as well as more frequent job (and even industry) changes.
Though most Singaporeans have come to recognise this new reality in the job market, perhaps we have not quite adapted to it.
This was the observation Labour Chief Chan Chun Sing made during a dialogue today with 1,200 working professionals. They were attending the annual NTUC U Future Leaders Summit, which brings together leaders in every industry to share knowledge and build networks for the betterment of all working people in Singapore.
The consensus among dialogue participants is that the next generation entering the workforce today would have up to 10 jobs in the course of their 40 to 50 year careers. However, the breakneck pace of change means that formal education can, at best, only prepare them for their first few jobs, after which, they will need to continue their professional development if they want to advance in their careers.
Obstacles To Professional Development
The biggest obstacles to working professionals in preparing themselves and acquiring the knowledge and skills for their next jobs are time and money.
No one feels they have the time to prepare for their next job. When you’re working, you’re already maxed out with work and taking care of family. Time is a premium that we can ill afford, at least not at great personal sacrifice.
As for money, no one will be willing to invest money in training unless they are very sure that after attending, they will see a tangible benefit, like getting a raise or having assurance that a new job awaits.
Mr Chan, whose official appointment is secretary-general of National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), shared that changing this current education paradigm is critical to help Singaporean workers prepare for the future.
Of course, formal schooling and continuing education still has an important role. But if that is the only option, where people need to take time off work and pay lots of money to get education, then we will never be able to help the majority of workers prepare for the future. In today’s fast paced world, not everyone has time to go back to school by taking a few months off work or committing five weeknights a week.
Cheaper Than Netflix, But Much More Satisfying
To address this problem, and allow Singaporeans to prepare for the jobs of the future while they are still at their current jobs, Mr Chan announced that NTUC is launching U Future Leaders Exchange (UFLX) – a subscription programme that gives members unlimited access to bite-sized sessions and events on a wide range of subjects.
The bite-sized nature of the curriculum will allow for a faster, leaner approach where real-life lessons and incidents are incorporated almost as soon as they happen, rather than waiting for months or years for knowledge to trickle into textbooks and academic papers.
Subscription costs $100 a year, with a special rate of $30 for NTUC members. Mr Chan said that it is hoped that this format will drastically reduce the cost, in time and money, of workers to prepare themselves for the many transitions they will make in the course of their careers.
Perhaps with this initiative, and many others that will undoubtedly follow, working professionals will feel more secure knowing they will always have a way to remain relevant and employable in the job market!