The workplace is rapidly changing, with disruptive technologies making waves and creating great uncertainty.

Automation and artificial intelligence are displacing traditional jobs, even as new ones are being created to service an innovation-led economy.

Those entering the workforce need new skills to thrive in the fast-changing landscape while existing workers may have to retool their skill sets to stay relevant.

Today’s workers also need to be skilled in communication, teamwork and leadership to navigate change and disruption.

Said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum held at the National University of Singapore in March: “You must be prepared that you might have to change from one career to another… even if you continue working for the same employer.”

At NTUC’s May Day Rally this year, labour chief and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing highlighted that constant upgrading of skills is crucial to help workers deal with structural changes such as disruptive technologies.

Associate Professor Themin Suwardy, Singapore Management University’s dean of postgraduate professional programmes, told The Business Times last year: “We need to be aware of the transformation that is taking place, and pick up new knowledge that will help us navigate the changing landscape.”

As a recognition of this trend, private education institutions in Singapore are offering programmes designed to help mature students and working professionals succeed in the new disruptive workplace.

The schools tweaked the curricula of traditional courses, such as finance and business, or created new ones.

Prof Suwardy said the key to postgraduate education is to go beyond exposure and comprehension, and move towards integration, synthesis and the ability to create new knowledge.

Auditor Edward Liew, 37, has been in the accountancy and auditing industry for more than 10 years.

He said: “Accounting is gradually being done by software programmes and automated bots that can deliver the same amount of work human accountants can do in about half the time.”

“As such, my position can easily be replaced by a robot or algorithm.”

“To guard against that scenario, I have to consider upgrading my skill sets or moving to another industry which requires different skills that will not be so readily replaceable, such as healthcare or food and beverage.”

Logistics supervisor David Khoo, 40, is thinking about pursuing a degree. He graduated with a diploma in logistics two decades ago.

Mr Khoo said: “Today, logistics is highly automated. Much of the work that used to be done by humans can now be performed by machines or robots.

“If I want to remain in this line, I have to upgrade my skills to learn how to operate and programme the automation software or robots.

“If I cannot do that, I may have to consider part-time or contract work.”

Besides upgrading themselves, another way to cope with disruption may be to move into a different industry with high demand and employability prospects.

Kaplan Singapore has launched the BA Childhood Studies and Early Years (Part-Time) programme. The first intake is in October.

The degree, which is awarded by Northumbria University, UK, aims to prepare graduates with relevant skills and technologies to tackle the expanding and ever-changing pre-school and early childhood sector.

The programme is suitable for fresh diploma graduates and mature students looking for a career switch.

Kaplan has also launched the Master of Engineering (Management) (Part-time) programme to help those who are gearing towards leadership roles in the management of engineering and technology-based organisations.

The degree is awarded by the RMIT University, Australia, and the first intake is in September.

Mr Rhys Johnson, Chief Operating Officer & Provost, Kaplan Singapore, said: “At Kaplan, we are focused on the success of our students who want to pursue a new career of their choice or help them achieve the promotion or career progression that they desire.”

Mr Johnson said that Kaplan, which is one of the leading private education providers in Singapore, is committed to working with highly recognised and accredited academic partners.

He said: “We seek to develop and introduce innovative programmes that will appeal to individuals and enhance the workforce capability to meet the needs of a wide range of industries.”

“We also want to provide relevant knowledge and skill sets to enable our graduates to contribute effectively to evolving markets and the new economy.”

Click to view PDF

Article by Arul John
Source: The New Paper© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction.