TECHNOLOGICAL disruptions are causing the job market to evolve at an exponential rate. Skills that used to be highly paid may soon become obsolete.
During the May Day rally this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the unemployment rate is expected to rise, citing factors such as restructuring and ageing workers.
However, despite challenges, job seekers and employees can invest in themselves by upgrading their skill sets in order to stay relevant and in demand.
What are the skills needed today?
The fast shift toward a knowledge-based digital economy, termed as the “fourth industrial revolution”, demands different skill sets.
The Information and Communications Technology sector is likely to continue taking precedence and workers should look into mastering or further advancing their IT skills. The demand for data will continue to increase, as it is useful for increasing business efficiency and also monitoring customer behaviour.
With the huge amounts of data available, skills related to interpreting, understanding and making use of it are valuable.
Also, as the nature of work today has become more global and unconstrained by locale, the worker who can flourish in such an economy must possess exceptional, cross-border collaborative skills. Candidates who have global exposure and a strong command of foreign languages will be well sought-after.
Transferable skills and open-minded attitude
Adaptive skills may be more important than industry-specific ones. SIM University labour economist Walter Theseira says transferable skills like project management, leadership and discipline, rather than employer-specific skills, are key.
Essentially, workers should be flexible, agile and open-minded. They should keep themselves constantly updated about the changes in their industry and have a positive mindset.
For instance, rather than lament the rise of automation, workers can find ways to focus on creative and strategic work that cannot be replaced by robots.
In order to future-proof careers, employees and job seekers should be proactive at upgrading their skills. Many Singaporeans are already making use of SkillsFuture, the national re-skilling platform. According to a January press release, more than 126,000 Singaporeans used their SkillsFuture credit last year.
Before signing up for SkillsFuture, workers should first understand the types of skill sets they need to master for their specific industry, or identify which transferable skills to learn. Doing due research will ensure that SkillsFuture credits are put to use in the most effective way.
Apart from formal courses, free resources are also readily available. Online course platforms like Coursera and edX offer an affordable and time-efficient way to learn. Industry journals and blogs also allow employees to keep abreast of industry updates.