For many decades, Singapore has enjoyed a tight labor market that allows its people to command higher wages than its counterparts in the Southeast Asian region. This situation makes it also more attractive to high-income-generating businesses that want to tap into the stability of the city-state’s economy and its generous pool of talented and intelligent individuals.
However, the country can also lose this advantage fast. One, other countries have become more competitive. The demand of employers these days is vastly different from many years ago. Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic drags the country’s economy down, and experts believe it may take a while before it can recover, especially since this is not an isolated case.
For this reason, many employees, specifically older workers between 56 and 65, fear losing their jobs unless they upgrade or learn new skills to stay relevant. In a survey by UOB, at least 90 percent of Singaporeans believed that upskilling or reskilling is essential in the post-pandemic world.
About 88 percent, meanwhile, think that companies may prefer those who can perform multiple roles due to the recession. Thus, those who have limited skills may have fewer chances of securing a better job.
Singaporeans, though, are not in a hopeless and helpless situation. They can explore a variety of ways to remain competitive and even in demand in the market:
1. Take Advantage of Out-of-Company Training
The cost of training an employee is expensive. It can be as much as a thousand dollars per person, so in lean times, this may become one of the least priorities for businesses.
It may benefit Singaporean workers, therefore, not to wait to receive upskilling from the company they’re working for. They can be more proactive and pursue training outside the organization, such as SSG-funded courses.
SSG stands for SkillsFuture Singapore. These include programs that make residents and citizens of the city-state more prepared for the demands of the global market, particularly STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
In the 2018 Pew Research Center data, STEM jobs had already grown by almost 80 percent since 1990. Meanwhile, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics claimed that from 2017 to 2029, the demand for STEM positions could accelerate by 8.8 percent.
2. Build Soft Skills
Although technical know-how counts in the workplace, soft skills are just as essential for any employer. In fact, they may matter more for those who seek leadership roles, which pay better. Moreover, in a Google study, among the best qualities of its employees, hard skills like coding came last.
But what soft skills employers want these days? The first one on the list is communication skills. It keeps the employee more engaged, so they become more productive and efficient at work. Organizations may find it easier to trust people who can effectively communicate their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions. Further, being a good communicator can also make one an excellent team player.
Another vital soft skill is adaptability. Employees don’t need to have all the hard skills, but they are adaptable or agile. They can be easily trained. They can also be flexible enough to deal with the changes in tech, organizational culture, and even the demographic of other workers. In other words, they become more valuable to the team.
3. Consider the World of Business
Here is the thing about being an employee: one can climb to the top of the ladder or earn the highest salary, but their growth will always be limited to what the company can offer to them.
For Singaporeans who want more flexibility with income, influence, leadership, and growth, they can consider opening a business. SSG includes various short-term courses to properly equip employees who want to transition to an entrepreneur in this tech age. Some options are digital warehousing solutions, applied entrepreneurship, e-payments, and the basics of online entrepreneurship.
Starting a company won’t be easy, and it can be costly in the beginning. However, Singaporeans have access to different types of financial assistance, such as government grants and low-interest business loans. Maximizing digital solutions can also help reduce operating costs while broadening exposure and branding.
The fear of losing one’s job, having fewer options in the workplace, or being bypassed for promotions is not baseless. The world’s economy is in shambles. Companies will do everything to reduce costs by letting go of people, and businesses may integrate more digital or tech-driven approaches to increase efficiency without driving labor costs up.
However, Singaporean employees can improve themselves personally and professionally to make themselves valuable not only in their current work but also in the global market.