TL;DR – Lifelong learning is the key to not getting displaced.
A recently released study by technology and security company Cisco and economic forecasting agency Oxford Economic threw up some frightening statistics:
- By 2028, 6.6 million jobs will become redundant across the six largest economies in the region
- By 2028, these six largest economies will require 28 million fewer workers to produce the same level of output as today
- By 2028, 20% of Singapore’s full-time workforce will be displaced. This means 500,000 jobs.
If you think the numbers are scary, mull on the thought that this change is already rapidly happening in today’s world.
Singapore Government’s role in the new economy
Singapore is no stranger to rapid digital transformation, with data, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence powering many of our Smart Nation initiatives.
The role of the Government here is two-fold.
On one hand, it needs to forecast the trends and changes in the various industries and chart out Singapore’s future in the new economy. The Ministry of Trade and Industry leads this charge, driving innovation, productivity, skills upgrading, growth, internationalisation etc through 23 Industry Transformation Maps (ITMs). This is then supported by partners such as Government bodies, trade associations, companies as well the trade unions. All these efforts help to reposition Singapore’s industries on the global stage so we remain competitive.
On the other hand, the Government also needs to protect its workers from the avalanche of job losses that will inadvertently happen across many industries.
It now takes a two-pronged approach to this.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) aims to provide every child a good start in life, regardless of background and circumstances, staying true to their “Every school, a good school” adage.
The recent years have also seen various changes to the education system to reduce the pressures that come with strict academic rigour. This rebalances the emphasis to encourage the intrinsic motivation to learn and joy of learning.
After their nation-wide examinations, MOE also stresses on the multiple pathways for children to develop their strengths. In last week’s The Dive piece, we have also explored some of these pathways as well as interviewed people who took the road less travelled.
Leaving school with a certification is only a mere point in what should be an individual’s lifelong learning journey.
We now move on to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and their role in the equation. MOM has meted out stiffer penalties for companies who consistently flout fair hiring practises, clearly reaffirming its stand that Singapoeans must be given fair opportunity. While we need some foreigners in Singapore, MOM will safeguard the interests of Singaporeans through the Fair Consideration Framework.
MOM also invests heavily in lifelong learning programmes.
The Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) targets Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) who make mid-career switches. They will undergo training and skills conversion to be able to move into new roles under either “Place-and-Train”, “Attach-and-Train” or “Redeployment”.
Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Adapt and Grow initiative is in place to help Singaporeans adapt to changing job demands, re-skill for new careers and stay agile for new opportunities. This is done through a whole array of career roadshows, mentorship, career coaching, workshops and job matching via MyCareersFuture.sg.
All these initiatives help older PMETs and mid-career switchers discover and transit into new opportunities. By encouraging continuous learning and upgrading of skills, Singaporeans will be able to adapt to the dynamic changes in the economy and remain competitive in the market. And these initiatives have also proven to be effective.
Lifelong learning is a mindset
With all these schemes and programmes in place, one has no lack of resources when it comes to upskilling or switching careers. However, whether one chooses to utilize them is another matter.
Lifelong learning is characterised as the “ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated” pursuit of knowledge and skills, placing the onus largely on the individual’s intrinsic motivations.
We spoke to several profiles to hear their thoughts on lifelong learning.
“Learning has to start from young. Not just a particular skill, but to build up the attitude of learning.” – Paul Pang
At 71, Paul is the epitome of lifelong learning. He just finished a Google Analytics course and is certified by Google to do Search Engine Optimization. While he did not manage to further his studies in a Junior College or university, he spent decades learning both formally and informally.
Clearly, age is not a number in his book and his growth mindset will see Paul continuing to learn.
This growth mindset and adaptability was something that saw Wendy through her career switch from a production operator, where she spent over 10 years in the manufacturing industry, to a casino croupier.
“Actually back then, the position that I applied for was a technician role in the casino – not a casino croupier. But since they needed manpower to fill the positions for croupier, I decided to take a leap of faith and gave it a try.”
But Wendy is clearly someone who is not afraid to try new things, even at 50! In 2018, she became an International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC) certified nutritionist and most recently, she scored a Level 3 Diploma in Holistic Massage.
“If I don’t keep learning new skills to stay relevant, who knows, one day I might just get displaced. By then, it will probably be too late for me to plan what’s the next step to take if I don’t have any relevant skills.”
Debunking myths about lifelong learning
There are some myths surrounding lifelong learning such as:
- Only technical and technological skills are considered lifelong learning
- We should only upgrade when our job is in danger
- Taking a course must result in a promotion, pay increment or help me land a job
Read on to find out the insight from 11 individuals who we spoke to that have invested the time and effort in upgrading their skills or learning new skills.
Pursuing lifelong learning
As evident from various experiences shared by others, lifelong learning is a journey that is intrinsically motivated. Many might not start with an end in mind, picking up skills that they are interested in or find useful, but end up finding that these skills/learnings play a part in opening opportunities for themselves. It is clear that age is not just a number and that one’s mindset and approach to lifelong learning is the key.
What will you do today to kickstart your lifelong learning journey?
(Featured image via)