High-level PMEs must get creative with SkillsFuture

Interviews taking place at the Early Childhood Recruitment Fair, held at 313@Somerset on Aug 20.
Interviews taking place at the Early Childhood Recruitment Fair, held at 313@Somerset on Aug 20.PHOTO: ST FILE

As a 44-year-old PME (professional, manager and executive) who has embarked on a lifelong journey that has included picking up languages, obtaining a Master of Business Administration along with other certifications, and taking up new sports and musical instruments, I am a huge advocate of continual learning.

Such pursuits keep my brain active, satiate my hunger for knowledge and skills, and help to impress upon my children that learning should be a lifetime journey.

Hence, when the Government announced its SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy ("Efforts to enhance PMEs' employability"; June 11), I was glad more PMEs like me could benefit from this admirable programme and at highly subsidised rates.

Employers should definitely leverage this to strengthen their workforce and boost the much-needed productivity.

On the other hand, some senior-level salaried PMEs in their 40s and 50s have said that if they get outplaced by their current employers, it will be difficult for them to find another job at the same pay scale.

Hence, maintaining a similar lifestyle becomes challenging, too.

Their expectation has been that the Workforce Development Agency's (WDA) courses should aid them with a mid-career switch, which is a daunting task, unless the PMEs compromise on their salaries and lifestyles, at least for the short term.

The WDA has gone a step further by even helping to match people with potential jobs through its Jobs Bank portal.

I have met cabbies who used to hold senior positions in their prime and could not find roles in other organisations to suit their ambitions or pay scale and, hence, decided to take it slow instead by driving taxis.

It is understandable that the WDA emphasises inclusive growth, hence the support for the lower-income PMEs. Therefore, the expectations of higher-income PMEs might not be easy to meet.

Senior PMEs who feel the WDA's leadership and management courses, for instance, might not sufficiently enhance their skill set, given their decades of management experience, can consider contributing instead by becoming a WDA-certified trainer, which might even pave the way for a mid-career switch as a consultant or trainer. This is what motivated me to add this certification to my path of lifelong learning.

SkillsFuture will benefit the majority of the workforce, but high-level PMEs who feel they are not sufficiently covered by this programme will have to find other creative ways to leverage it and eventually contribute to our economy.

Kannan Chettiar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 06, 2015, with the headline 'High-level PMEs must get creative with SkillsFuture'. Print Edition | Subscribe