We are living in a period of change, where technological advancements are disrupting industries everywhere.
Those with the right skills will be able to seize the opportunities, and enjoy tremendous rewards. Those who are unable to adjust and adapt will face more challenges.
The fear of being made obsolete is real for older, mid-career workers and this creates anxiety. Given that their skills will be less ‘current’ by definition, they are at higher risk of career disruption .
“And that’s why we will need to review our policies and strengthen our institutions to ensure that work remains a central way for Singaporeans to thrive,” DPM Lawrence Wong said.
To address the evolving nature of work, we will need to redouble our investments in skills and human capital, DPM Wong said.
Most workers these days will have multiple careers in their lifetimes. Even in the rare case of someone working in the same company throughout their lives, the work they do will likely evolve over time.
DPM Wong said, “Employers may not support the training programmes. Or even if employers say that they will allow their workers to attend, they may not pay the salaries of the workers during the period of training.”
Also, mid-career workers, many of whom need to take care of both elderly parents and children, find it difficult to commit to such training. For the workers who are displaced, their challenges are even more acute.
“Some may need to switch to a new field altogether, but they find it difficult to go for training when they are unemployed and still have families to support,” DPM Wong said. “So they may end up just taking the first job available, even if it is not a good fit for them, which is not ideal,” he added.
We want to avoid the negative outcomes seen in other countries where unemployment benefits offered to displaced workers are so generous that these displaced workers find it more attractive to stay unemployed than to get back into the workforce.
What we really should be thinking about is re-employment support, rather than unemployment support, DPM Wong said.
Employers Need To Step Up
DPM Wong said employers need to ‘step up to invest in the training of their workers, and to encourage more training that leads to recognised, verifiable credentials’.
“We need to improve labour market information and strengthen labour market intermediaries, so that there can be better matching of jobs and workers,” said DPM Wong.
“In fact, we also want to provide workers with easy access to their own data on their skills and competencies, as well as the areas of future industry demand and growth, so that workers can be empowered and take greater responsibility to plan their own careers.
“These are major changes which we are thinking about to take our SkillsFuture eco-system to the next level, and to strengthen our system of lifelong learning and training. So that’s one big area that we are applying our minds on, and we will be reviewing and seeing what more changes and improvements we can do,” DPM Wong said.