The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all jobs on a global scale. Technology has now become an integral part of our business operations and how we live. How can we keep up with these transformations?
The job market has transformed significantly in just a few months – and it will continue to do so.
Throughout history, Singapore has never sat around to wait for things to settle. We observe trends and are quick to respond. Our leaders have been proactive in shifting the nation’s focus to helping Singaporeans secure and retain jobs and businesses.
But to achieve true employment and economic stability, the community must cooperate with the support given. Without the workforce also changing their ways of thinking and embracing digital solutions, job security plans cannot come to fruition. Being flexible and making full use of opportunities available opens one up to new experiences, which can be turned into a competitive edge when the economy recovers.
Here are 4 ways the job market has transformed. Where do you stand in all of this? Are you moving with these changes, or do you have some catching up to do? Recently, ministers, grassroots members, and e2i’s CEO Gilbert Tan came together on Facebook Live to discuss digital changes. This was part of the new JOBS @ West Coast launch – a first-of-its-kind initiative which is part of a bigger national plan responding to job market changes and the shifting needs of Singaporeans.
1. More sectors are digitalising
Certain sectors have been digitalising since before COVID-19, such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. ICT has always been an important vertical that opens up new pathways for businesses while cutting across the whole economy horizontally. For instance, an insurance company that adopts data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) could unlock opportunities to engage new, increasingly tech-savvy customers.
The Ministerial Committee for Digital Transformation was set up in June 2020 to create up to 100,000 jobs, traineeships and skills training opportunities for Singaporeans across sectors. A key priority will be to, under the SkillsFuture initiative TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), help people acquire new skills and seize tech-related jobs. Another focus is to encourage severely impacted sectors such as F&B and Retail to go digital, especially for smaller businesses.
Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran shared that opportunities will be made for both tech-heavy and “tech lite” roles. The latter requires simple technical skills to complement the main business. The Social sector is a non-tech area that has implemented digital solutions since Circuit Breaker. Social service agencies have moved to virtual counseling sessions and, soon, virtual fund-raisers. Shifting some services online eliminates issues around travelling and logistics, freeing up manpower for greater productivity.
What does this mean for you as a jobseeker?
Assess whether your skills are updated by checking against the respective Skills Framework Industry Transformation Maps. Identify your gaps and seek opportunities to upgrade yourself. If you need help with this process, engage an e2i Career Coach to walk you through it.
2. Start-up scene getting vibrant in the face of disruption
The current pandemic need not be a despairing time for businesses, especially entrepreneurs. Periods of crisis are typically when innovative start-ups step up to the plate, as seen with Grab and WhatsApp.
The recent Job Situation Report by Ministry of Manpower revealed that, to date, more than 1,600 start-ups have come onboard the SGUnited Jobs and Skills programmes*. The start-ups are offering more than 4,600 jobs and 860 traineeships and attachments to local jobseekers. These include unconventional roles such as gallery manager executive, commercial intelligence associate and animator; tech-related roles such as software developers and app developers, and non-tech roles like sous chefs, business development leads and digital content producers.
It’s all about trend spotting and, as Former Advisor to Pioneer GROs Cedric Foo puts it, having a “risk appetite”. Start-ups can ride on the opportunities by identifying constraints created by the pandemic and providing solutions for those problems.
This disruptive time is a point of inflection. It presents a lot of opportunities for start-ups because many business models will be disrupted. There are areas which are underserved, some not served at all.”
— Cedric Foo
For example, Zoom was not the talk of the town until the pandemic forced most individuals to work from home. Video conferencing has not only allowed companies to continue having meetings. It has connected the world in previously unimaginable ways with virtual fairs, conventions, and even concerts.
Cedric encourages all young entrepreneurs to be bold and to try starting up their own business during this time. The Government has set aside budget to help existing local start-ups sustain innovation and entrepreneurship activities. New start-ups can consider engaging freelancers, who come with a wide range of skills and a more flexible workflow.
What does this mean for you as a jobseeker or a self-employed person?
If you have valuable skills to contribute, keep a lookout for a start-up business that could use your services. Don’t be intimidated with the idea of working in a newly established business. Working with a start-up can be an exciting and fulfilling experience!
3. Job searching is increasingly going digital too
Gone are the days when job openings were listed in the newspapers. With the rise of online job portals, jobseekers are increasingly required to look for vacancies online. Virtual career fairs have brought even more hirers and jobseekers together more regularly, widening one’s net to an even greater pool of jobs.
Mobile apps offering job-related services have come about as well. The new LifeSG app gives jobseekers a simplified suite of job-related resources all on one single platform. Jobseekers can find jobs, book a career coach session, enrol in skills courses, and get tips on making a career switch. Telegram app users can also join the NTUC Job Security Council’s Jobs Alert channels, for PMETs and non-PMETs, to be notified when there’s a new job listing.
More hirers are holding online interviews during this pandemic period. This may come as a relief to some as talking to a screen seems less intimidating. However, be mindful that the same professional rules apply. Details such as your interview attire, your background environment, or even your username on Zoom could make or break your interview.
What does this mean for you as a jobseeker?
e2i’s Job Hunting Online workshop walks jobseekers through where and how to apply for jobs online. The e2i’s Win The Search! workshop teaches jobseekers how to craft an effective resume for their desired job to increase chances of getting selected. There are several avenues, both physical and virtual, for you to explore to bolster your skills and to find your next job. Use the flowchart below to see which starting point best describes your situation right now.
If you need a refresher or Online Interviews 101, e2i’s Win The Interview! workshop has got you covered. Jobseekers get to learn about the latest trends in interviewing and hold mock interviews through roleplaying.
At the same time, physical job fairs have not disappeared. You can head to e2i’s Events Calendar to browse for upcoming job fairs. Certain job fairs have returned to various neighbourhoods like SGUnited Jobs & Skills @ West Coast GRC & Pioneer SMC* (JOBS @ West Coast initiative). Not to worry, there are appropriate safe distancing measures in place.
SGUnited Jobs & Skills @ West Coast GRC & Pioneer SMC will take place every third Friday of each month starting September 2020*. There, you can:
- Meet employers for on-the-spot interviews
- Sign up for courses with training providers to upskill
- Speak to Career Navigators who can help you with your job search
- Explore and apply for jobs in the vicinity at the Job Station
4. Tech skills are now crucial, regardless of age
Technology is no longer something we can run away from. It has become integral in all of our lives, regardless of our age. For instance, today, QR codes are used by businesses and individuals of all ages. We video call our family to keep in contact amidst social distancing. We get timely updates on COVID-19 from news outlets or our social circles using our phones.
Age making someone less of a candidate for a job is a myth. As Telok Blangah Chairperson Rachel Ong put it, “Age does not disqualify us. On the contrary, it qualifies us.” Technology has gotten so advanced that learning how to use it has become easier than ever. Video tutorials on almost anything are online for people to learn, step-by-step, at their own pace.
Minister for National Development Desmond Lee believes that mature workers carry with them invaluable life experiences, making them ideal for the Preschool and Social sectors. Apart from carrying more on-the-job experience, mature workers also possess the soft skills to navigate terrains and excel in certain roles. For example, a 52-year-old mother would likely flourish as a preschool educator. She, having a family of her own, would know how to care for young children and relate to other parents.
Ultimately, a can-do attitude is the key enabler of mature workers picking up tech skills for greater employability. e2i CEO Gilbert Tan reiterates that employability is determined by one’s mindset, capabilities, and connections; e=mc2. The Government has put together a plethora of resources and support schemes for workers who are willing to try to tap on.
What does this mean for you as a jobseeker?
Tech skills are something you need to embrace to stay employable in this new job landscape. Rather than your age, the determining factor is how you choose to respond to this crisis. Support is available to bring all jobseekers up to speed so that no one is left in the lurch.
Tap on available schemes and initiatives for help
With the changing times, more help has opened up, especially for mid-career and mature workers who will need more guidance with adopting technology.
Jobseekers aged 40 and above get an extra $1,500 in SkillsFuture credits for tech and other upskilling courses. NTUC union members in that age group get an additional $500 until 2022 under NTUC’s Enhanced Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP).
The TeSA Mid-Career Advance programme hires and trains mid-career professionals for in-demand tech roles, regardless of whether he or she has an ICT background. The programme seeks to create 2,500 jobs over the next few years for those interested in kick-starting a career in tech.
Employers too need to shake the prejudice of age as a deciding factor when hiring. Employers can tap on the Senior Worker Early Adopters’ Grant and the Part Time Re-Employment Grant to adjust to the increase in Retirement Age (RA), Re-employment Age (REA) and CPF contribution rates, and create more age-friendly workplaces. Businesses can also contact e2i officers directly to work out job training, job re-design and manpower solutions specific to their company.
We are in a difficult environment and it is a challenge we have to rise up to. But you don’t have to do this alone. You have assistance from the government and organisations like e2i, and now we have help on the ground.”
— Minister S Iswaran, Communications and Information Minister
Digital transformations that have risen from the pandemic will not be temporary measures, but are here to stay. Technology has shown us how else operations can, while under tense circumstances, raise productivity and improve results at a lower cost. The world is going on ahead at full sprint. Will you embrace this new normal?
e2i is working with government and grassroots partners to prepare our workforce for this new economic landscape. More job initiatives similar to JOBS @ West Coast are currently in the works, and will soon be brought to other constituencies. Tap onto our library of resources, schemes and initiatives and equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to move forward with your employability:
- Career Coaching
- Job Fairs (Events Calendar)
- Job Security Council Telegram Channel
- Life SG App
- Win the Job! Series
*SGUnited programmes have ceased.