TL;DR – Plan ahead, plan wisely.
Minister in Prime Minister’s Office and Labour Chief, Chan Chun Sing, turned into a career coach during an interview with Mediacorp’s Chinese media (空中访民情) on 13th October 2017.
Throughout the interview, listeners called in to ask Minister Chan various questions. The questions were mainly about jobs, employability and skills.
In case you missed it, here are five key things that Minister Chan said in the interview:
1. Don’t just follow the crowd
The interviewers asked Minister Chan what he thought about the job prospects of the youths. He said that the job prospects of youths are generally good. However, he worries about two groups.
First, youths who don’t really know what they are good at or like to do and choose courses of study based on what appear popular. Second, youths who spend lots of money to go overseas to get degrees in courses in fields that aren’t promising. Upon returning, they aren’t able to get jobs despite the amount of money spent to get their degrees.
Career Coach Chan’s advice: Find out what what skills are most valuable before investing the time and effort in your education.
2. Have to keep planning for the future
One of the interviewers told Minister Chan that her university lecturer said this to her: “I’m currently teaching you things I learnt in the past for you to use in the future.”
To that, Minister Chan agreed. He pointed out that given the pace of change in the economy, a lot of the things we learn in school will be very quickly outdated. That’s why it’s important to keep on learning and planning for the future.
Minister Chan recounted a discussion he had with some Swiss officials. The Swiss don’t wait till they are 50 to plan for what they can do when they are 60. Instead, they start planning all the way from their 20s. In their 20s, they plan what they should do to be relevant when they are 30s. When they reach their 30s, they plan what they should do in their 40s, and so on. In the process, they keep learning so that they can retire well.
Career Coach Chan’s advice: Don’t wait till you are close to retiring, start planning when you are young.
3. Upskill and reskill while still employed
A listener who works in IT support shared that he has gone for various courses, including cyber security courses, even though he’s still employed. He said he is doing that to stay relevant. Minister Chan commended the listener for actively picking up new skills while being employed.
Minister Chan said he hoped more people would be like the listener. That would be the best way to ensure that one stays relevant and prepared for the future.
Career Coach Chan’s advice: Pick up new skills while still employed to be better prepared for the future.
4. Choose wisely, plan carefully
While Minister Chan encouraged people to pick up new skills, he pointed out that some skills won’t help you get a better job. That’s why it’s important to look around and see what are the growth sectors of the economy.
Minister Chan highlighted that some of the growth sectors in Singapore are the logistics sector, early childhood sector, and cyber security.
A good way to ensure that you are picking up skills that will help you get a promising job is to take part in the Place and Train programme. That is a programme where you get a job first, then train for the job.
Another benefit of being on the Place and Train programme is that you get paid while being trained. Pretty good deal!
Career Coach Chan’s advice: Consider the Place and Train programme.
5. There’s help at hand
Of course, Minister Chan can’t possibly provide proper career coaching in the short span of the interview to the listeners who called in. That’s why Minister Chan suggested they approach the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) for proper career coaching and support.
Career Coach Chan’s advice: Get support from e2i.
The future can be bright
Minister Chan pointed out that there are more jobs in Singapore than there are Singaporeans of working age. The issue is one of mismatch of skills and expectations.
That’s why it’s possible to have a bright future if we choose wisely, plan carefully, and keep on learning.
You can watch the full video here,