Constant upskilling should not be just a buzzword, and here’s why

By September 2, 2020Current

TL;DR – “The capacity to learn is a gift. The ability to learn is a skill. The willingness to learn is a choice.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has confronted the world with an unprecedented situation.

Organisations around the world are experiencing unprecedented workforce disruption, forcing them to realize how critical digital transformation is for their survival – including NTUC LearningHub.

When COVID-19 reared its ugly head in Singapore, NTUC LearningHub knew it had to adapt quickly.

As such, NTUC LearningHub pivoted from a purely face-to-face training organisation to one that is nearly 100% virtual classroom delivery.

“As many of NTUC LearningHub’s training programmes were designed for in-person facilitation, NTUC LearningHub had to pivot quickly in adapting and redesigning curricula and training delivery from in-person mode to virtual training mode, so that the affected sectors could continue to send their staff for training and upskilling in making the best use of the downtime,” explained Mr Leslie Teo, a Training & Programme Manager at NTUC LearningHub.

Before joining NTUC LearningHub, Leslie has served an eight-year stint in an Institute of Higher Learning (IHL), with the last five years as Programme Chair.

Mr Leslie Teo at the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Series @ Suntec City Convention Centre


Besides having to ensure that the virtual platforms chosen were user-friendly enough for mass deployment, Leslie, along with the team at NTUC LearningHub had to also ensure that the curricula and learning activities were suitably adapted for virtual facilitation, “which can be quite a challenge,” Leslie tells me.

Challenging as it may be, the show must go on.

And NTUC LearningHub is determined to stay true to its mission – to enhance the lifelong employability of Singapore’s workforce by providing high quality, innovative products and affordable learning.

Helping Singaporeans transiting into new career opportunities

When I visited Leslie at the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Series which was held at Suntec City Convention Centre last week, I learned that three more courses for Healthcare Tracks have been added to the SGUnited Skills (SGUS) Programme offerings.

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Despite the uncertainty about the economy, there are some bright spots and opportunities in the healthcare sector, where trained professionals are in need. In fact, there are thousands of job and training positions created for a wide spectrum of people, even for those without healthcare experience.

And according to what Leslie tells me, two of the SGUS programmes – namely the Basic Care Assistant and Healthcare Assistant – are skills-based linked to Direct Care delivery, while the third one – Health Coach and Community Care Executive – is a Professional, Manager & Executive (PME) focused role, which provides one with the necessary knowledge and skills to play an essential role in community settings.

In case you didn’t know, announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in his budget speech earlier this year in May, the SGUS Programme is a new initiative which aims to provide training for about 30,000 job seekers looking to upgrade their skills while on the job hunt.

A career change is possible

“Can someone with zero background knowledge or experience in the healthcare sector really become a healthcare professional after completing the programme?” I ask. I have always been skeptical about such training programmes, you see.

“Most certainly!” Leslie replies.

Leslie then tells me that these programmes come with work attachments that provide participants with hands-on opportunities with various healthcare institutions. Participants will also be assessed upon completion of the course.

So long as Singaporeans are willing to adopt an open mindset, a switch from the other fields to the healthcare profession isn’t entirely impossible.

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Also, as the NTUC LearningHub is part of Healthcare Academy, it will help to provide career advisory and employment assistance to help match the newly trained professionals to available roles with Healthcare employers at the end of the programme.

Wanna know where to get free career coaching, job matching and receive $1.2K a month while you learn?

Just so you know, the course fees are really affordable as well! The full programme fee after funding for Singaporeans & PRs is only $500.

And yes, you can use your SkillsFuture Credit as well as your Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP) to offset your course fee if you’re an NTUC member!

Of course, apart from the SGUnited Skills Programme and the SkillsFuture Credit, these are also other Government initiatives such as SGUnited Jobs and the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways programme that Singaporeans can tap on to help one navigate through this difficult time and emerge stronger post-COVID.

With all the help available, I can see why Leslie describes Singapore as “one of only a handful of countries with such a comprehensive framework to help its citizens overcome this global adversity and emerge much better skilled to take on future jobs.”

Knowledge is much more than power, it is key to a better life

On the importance of upskilling and reskilling in this climate, Leslie shares that he has always believed that we should always look for opportunities to upskill and reskill oneself regardless of where we may be, either professionally or from a personal perspective.

He believes that as the adage goes, knowledge is power.

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“It doesn’t harm one to obtain more knowledge, whether the knowledge is related to one’s job or if it is general knowledge; knowledge enriches one’s life and fuels the curiosity to find out more about ourselves and how the world works.”

“We need to ask ourselves what are complementary and adjacent skills that could add value to our current role and potential future roles that we could take on. Once we have identified what those skills are, we then need to identify our knowledge and skills gaps and plan how we can close those gaps,” he mused.

Seth Godin: You can learn just about anything now. So what did you learn today?

Speaking from his own experience, Leslie tells me that he has, too, adapted and pivoted several times. “In pivoting to a new industry or even to a new role in the same industry, a period of re-skilling is to be expected,” Leslie said. “As such, it is important that we plan for it so that we have an idea of how long such a pivot might take.”

Don’t give up yet

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the global economy and the lives and livelihoods of many people. Take a step out of our own comfort zones and dare to take the plunge into the unknown.

“Some sacrifices will have to be made. But be assured that there are people who have done it, making a successful switch a new career and new industry with hard work and determination.”

I believe so, too.


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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

More posts by Gabrielle Teo

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