Friday Soapbox: SkillsFuture is the mum that everyone takes for granted

10/12/2021

You must have heard these few words a million times: Upskilling, reskilling, SkillsFuture.

If the SkillsFuture movement were ever guilty of something, it is probably guilty of caring too much, akin to an overzealous mum trying to give you the best opportunities for you to shine in life.

Having said that, this mum is no tiger mum: she doesn’t expect you to top the class, ace all subjects and finally be a lawyer or doctor.

This mum just wants you to pick up a new skill. That is all.

Interested to make a table? Go knock yourself out. Harbouring a baker’s dream? Just bake it. So you want to be a DJ? Go spin your heart out.

Or if you want to stay one step ahead in this ever-changing job economy, this mum will definitely be as pleased as punch.

Just think about it: which government in the world pays its people to learn a new skill and tops up more credits? This one does.

The mum that everyone takes for granted

So when the SkillsFuture Singapore released it’s first-ever yearly Skills Demand for the Future Economy report on Dec. 8, 2021, it confirmed this writer’s belief: the SkillsFuture movement is the mum that everyone takes for granted.

Let this writer humbly list down the points, unironically.

Firstly, nobody asked for the report but, you know what, SkillsFuture did it anyway because the report gives good insights to what are the growth areas of digital, green and care, and the types of skills needed in the future.

The findings are of course backed by research and not the typical WhatsApp gossip groups.

The World Economic Forum reported last year that the adoption of new technologies is giving rise to greater demand for green economy jobs and those at the forefront of the digital economy. Plus, the continuing importance of human interaction in the new economy is increasing demand for care economy jobs.

So what are the skills needed?

Digital skills include: technology application, data analysis, market research, technology scanning and automation application.

For the green economy: green process design, carbon footprint management, environmental management system, sustainability management and design for manufacturing and assembly.

Lastly skills in demand for the care economy: conduct and ethics, stakeholder management, inclusive practices, change management framework and reflective practice.

As these skills are increasingly relevant in the workforce, they are transferrable across various industries, as companies create demand for similarly-skilled workers to obtain their goals, noted SkillsFuture (or everyone’s mum at this point).

Secondly, being a caring mum usually means the tendency to nag a little bit.

So when Education Minister Chan Chun Sing delivered his speech at the Skills Demand for the Future Economy Forum, which introduced the report, it felt like we’ve heard it somewhere before.

That the world is changing faster than ever; that we need to upskill, reskill to stay ahead to pursue opportunities; that every worker needs to acquire skills for the jobs of tomorrow.

These are well-meaning words and good pieces of advice for Singaporeans – even if they are oft-repeated. Joke’s on us if the day comes when most jobs require some form of data analysis and we just look blankly at the recruiter and say: “Data yes. I have 30gb every month.”

And last but not least, the release of the report is proof that this mum – like all mums – will never stop worrying about her kids.

As Minister Chan noted: “The Skills Demand for the Future Economy report is not an exercise in predicting the future, but an exercise in being forward looking. The larger objective is to raise awareness, provoke discussion and most importantly spur all of us to take action to arm ourselves with these new “tools” for our future.”

Despite not having a crystal ball, SkillsFuture never stops using reports and market trends to hedge against the unpredictability of the future job market.

Why? Because Singaporeans need jobs. Simple as that.

This mum will never stop

At the end of the day, the decision to learn a new skill or upskill is ours to make.

This writer, however, doesn’t need a crystal ball to know that more relevant courses will be added, better trainers will be provided and more SkillsFuture credits will be made available for every adult.

Because this mum, as intransigent as ever, will never stop pushing us to learn something new or worrying for our future.

Just like all other mums.

Cover image credit: Families For Life and SkillsFuture Facebook pages