On the 1st of November, I had the chance to meet NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Mr. Patrick Tay for the first time in a media conference.
The primary agenda for the day was simple, and that was to introduce NTUC’s newest initiative – Future Jobs, Skills and Training (FJST), aimed at helping tomorrow’s unemployed into tomorrow’s jobs.
Future Jobs, Skills And Training
So… what are the main concerns that the FJST is set to tackle?
According to Mr. Tay, there are three mismatches in today’s society that negatively impacts the employability and job search process for Singaporeans
- Mismatch of skills,
- Mismatch of jobs,
- Mismatch of expectations
Due to the lack of publicly available information, job seekers sometimes have a skewed impression of what jobs are up for grabs, and where they can be found. This in turn results in a surplus of jobs in certain industries while other sectors, such as security, suffer from a crippling lack of manpower.
Considering the importance of security in terms of vigilance against terrorism, the weakening of our private security force could very well pose a veritable risk to Singapore.
Following that, Mr. Tay also brought up another interesting point. According to the Acting Minister of Education, Ong Ye Kung, there will be a job boom in the engineering and tech sectors of more than 30, 000 positions.
But one question hangs over everyone’s heads – Exactly where are these jobs?
The engineering and IT areas of study have many specialisations, and without an accurate jobs GPS, it would certainly prove difficult to correctly identify the exact disciplines in which students should focus their efforts.
All fields of engineering would have to some extent, overlaps in knowledge, but that does not mean that the skills are directly transferable. The same goes for someone who works in IT, programming and software engineering as each requires different technical skill sets.
To better facilitate the connecting of people of today to the jobs of tomorrow, the FJST will function as a “strategic nerve centre”.
FJST To Help Tomorrow’s Unemployed Into Tomorrow’s Jobs
Ok, so now let’s jump into FJST proper. What exactly is NTUC’s latest capability about, besides its rather tongue-tripping abbreviation?
Prong #1 – Sensing Data
Just a minute ago, I discussed the idea of the trouble that could come with not knowing exactly where the available jobs are to be found.
As of this moment, the different players have their own statistics on job availabilities, and while the government releases data such as those seen in the Straits Times article, there remains to be seen a collated database of specific details where jobs will be lost and created.
And this is what the “Sensing” arm is about.
It will tap on the expanded Labour Movement network (of unions, PMEs, HR, professional guilds, SMEs, startups and freelancers etc) along with the government to gather ground sensing data.
The central aim of this cooperation would be to pool statistics such as job growth and losses from the various industries.
FJST will also find out what skills that workers need to have in order to be hired to fill these future jobs, and whether there are sufficient training courses available.
Prong #2 – Synthesising Collected Data
The data gathered during sensing will be analysed, corroborated and validated in order to obtain a clearer picture as to the employment opportunities available. Essentially taking raw numbers and making sense out of what they actually mean.
Prong #3 – Shooting The Action Plans
After synthesising the data, FJST will have a better idea of which industries are rife with job opportunities. This will facilitate the development of action plans to set up training courses and possible career paths to connect tomorrow’s unemployed to tomorrow’s jobs.
By focusing their efforts on the relevant skills trainings, people will be better prepared to tackle the dreaded job search.
How Can A Worker Facing Job Loss Be Prepared For A New Role Tomorrow?
One example of a success case would be transforming the skills and career of a security officer earning $1,100 a month, to a digital forensics job earning $3,000-$4,000 a month.
To achieve this, FJST could suggest a pathway of targeted multi-step job and skills upgrades through security assessment and planning. This would allow the security officer to pick up basic level programming, before being scaled up to site security responsibilities, basic digital forensics courses and apprenticeships at cybersecurity firms.
This proposed action plan could thereafter be implemented through joint efforts of the worker, employer, union, learning provider and government.
With FJST, workers who will lose their jobs due to technological and economic disruption will know exactly in which companies and sectors the future jobs will be available in, and how to skill themselves to be hired.
It’s Time To Start Paying Attention
Some of the main concerns that Singaporeans have about future skills is which field of study or discipline would bring in the most job stability, money etc., and whether those jobs will still be around after they graduate.
With our economy going through changes at an even faster pace than we are prepared for, hoping the government will take care of everything is an unrealistic expectation.
Hopefully the FJST will give us a better direction on the exact skills we need to learn, and career steps we need to take, so stay relevant and put food on the table.
The Labour Movement is actively taking steps towards helping our workers be future-ready. Are you doing your part?
Featured Image Credit: ntu.edu.sg