In today’s job market, it’s becoming the norm for people to switch careers several times for various reasons such as pursuing one’s passions or adapting to changing economic conditions. Due to recruitment challenges like manpower shortage, companies also need to hire and train new talents from different industries.
How can career switchers quickly acquire the skills required for their new jobs, and how can companies bring new hires without prior industry experience up to speed?
With support from NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), Career Conversion Programmes (CCPs) are programmes targeted at career switchers to undergo skills conversion and move into new occupations or sectors as seamlessly as possible with the necessary training and support for their transition.
Graphic: The Career Conversion Programme helps career switchers connect with employers, benefit from skills training and transit to new careers
One individual who has successfully made a career switch with the Career Conversion Programme is Mr Chia Boon Huat, 62, who was retrenched from his previous full-time job in the car tyre industry. As he already had a strong interest in coffee, Mr Chia has decided to join School of Coffee as a barista with the support of his family and friends.
Photo: After he was retrenched, Mr Chia Boon Huat pursued his interest in coffee by joining School of Coffee as a barista
Besides being one of the pioneer barista training schools in Singapore, School of Coffee also operates several cafés islandwide. As customers usually have specific expectations of their preferred coffee, these cafés require baristas who are trained to consistently follow the company’s coffee brewing process.
During Mr Chia’s on-the-job training as a barista, his superiors (Mr Tony Tang, CEO, and Ms Zann Cai, General Manager) opened his eyes to the world of coffee. They took on the role of being his mentors and showed him how every little step in the coffee brewing process was crucial in making the perfect cuppa.
“I learnt how to brew and drink coffee in the proper manner. It is indeed true that every little step counts and makes a difference to the eventual cup of drink if not done properly,” he shared.
School of Coffee also sent Mr Chia for food hygiene as well as customer experience management courses which were tailored for new F&B staff, all within six months of his first day with the company.
Mr Benjamin Tan, 26, also benefited from the Career Conversion Programme when he switched roles in the F&B industry.
Photo: Mr Benjamin Tan learnt the ropes of consistent coffee brewing with School of Coffee under the Career Conversion Programme
“In my previous jobs (as a waiter and server at a hotel and car showroom), I ended work very late at times. My pay was low and remained stagnant for a long period. Rather than doing mundane tasks like wiping cups and plates, and preparing some very simple drinks, I received good encouragement and support from my family and friends to upgrade and take on a different role that could potentially be more fulfilling,” he said.
During his CCP training, Benjamin was guided on how to use the espresso machines to make gourmet drinks and local coffee, learning the correct techniques of frothing milk for milk-based drinks, and using the proper ingredients for drinks such as Matcha Latte and Café Mocha.
Photo: Mr Tony Tang (centre), CEO of School of Coffee, guided a trainee on the right position to compact coffee powder into a portafilter during a barista course
Tony and Zann were also Benjamin’s mentors throughout the CCP and they shared their experiences and expertise in making coffee with him. “I wouldn’t have made it this far without their guidance and their sharing of experience on making coffee. Most notable was also when they taught me how to do proper frothing, be it for Cappuccino and Café Latte, and I was able to do some art as well, like a heart-shape,” he explained.
He added, “I learned a lot more about the local and gourmet drinks – from product knowledge to the proper method to prepare the drinks with consistency. Quality and consistency are the key things to keep customers coming back.”
While career changes can be challenging, it is also a journey of learning and growth. With the right mindset and support from the CCP, anyone can successfully make the switch and find fulfilment in their new job.
Partnership between School of Coffee and NTUC’s e2i
School of Coffee has been working closely with NTUC’s e2i for many years for past grants to support workers’ professional development and job redesign. The company had invested in a holistic and structured training plan for the new hires, including charting out their potential career progression. When the CCP was launched, Zann felt that it was a win-win scenario for both employer and the new hires as the company could receive support on staff salary portions on top of grants to upskill their new hires.
Photo: Ms Zann Cai (centre in black), General Manager of School of Coffee, explained the steps to make a consistent coffee brew with barista trainees
“If I put myself in the shoes of these potential candidates, I’ll feel happy to know that my hiring company is willing to or have plans to invest in me. While I get upskilled, I grow as a person and I also get to receive better remuneration when I am better skilled. We believe this has served as a “pull” factor for our candidates,” she shared.
When developing the training plan, Zann’s main goal was to train everyone to be able to do everything so that no one person would be heavily relied on for any one task. Another reason was to let employees explore their interests by trying out different areas of work. This approach not only allowed School of Coffee to streamline operations, but it also helped them develop plans to groom their employees in terms of their strengths and interests.
Zann was extremely satisfied at how NTUC’s e2i had made their entire CCP journey a fuss-free and seamless one. She enthused, “A big shoutout to Amanda, who has helped us so much throughout our programme and she has truly been a reliable source of information for any queries that we might have. Thank you, Amanda, and the whole Consumer Services team, we truly are grateful for all of you, and we look forward to many more collaboration opportunities with the team!”
If your company is looking to train career switchers to upskill and prepare for their new job roles without prior experience, contact NTUC’s e2i to learn more the Career Conversion Programme here.