NTUC to provide more career support for students and workers

NTUC's e2i CEO Gilbert Tan talking about NTUC's new U Career Network at the NTUC Centre on April 25, 2017.
NTUC's e2i CEO Gilbert Tan talking about NTUC's new U Career Network at the NTUC Centre on April 25, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - In yet another move to help workers, the job and training arm of the labour movement has set up a new U Career Network to help people looking for career guidance.

The network will not only have career coaches but also volunteers who can direct their peers to job and training resources, as well as industry mentors who can share their expertise at talks for students and workers.

It is being set up by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), the job and training arm of the National Trades Union Congress.

In announcing the move on Wednesday (April 26), e2i's chief executive Gilbert Tan said: "The world, the environment, the working place will become more fluid and professionals need to respond and change along the way."

So there is a need to support workers in their journey to acquire skills, switch jobs and cope with the emotional aspects at each phase of change, he added.

Mr Tan also unveiled a framework that will help ensure high professional standards for career coaches and provide a structured path for them to develop their skills.

Called the Practising Employability Coach (PEC) framework, it will require coaches to be assessed yearly for accredition by e2i at one of four levels: certified, senior, professional or master PEC.

They are given points based on such requirements as the number of clients served, types of clients coached, industry knowledge, conducting group coaching and mentoring of other coaches. More points are required to reach higher levels.

All coaches have to complete at least 120 hours of professional development over three years, which could be in the form of training courses or peer learning sessions.

The PEC was started by e2i at the start of this year and since then, about 30 of its 50 full-time coaches have been accredited as certified or senior PECs.

E2i also hopes to recruit more part-time associate coaches.

Madam Minna Foo, 44, a senior PEC at e2i, sees about 30 clients each month, far more than the minimum requirement for the senior PEC level of 40 for the past year from different occupation groups.

Her clients include rank-and-file workers as well as professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs).

She helps them to explore their job options based on their career interests, values and skill sets and recommends workshops that could improve their job search skills, like resume writing.

"The framework provides a structure and if our points are low in certain areas, we know those are areas we need to work on," she said.

Besides career coaches, e2i wants to rope in industry professionals to mentor workers or give career talks to students. About 150 from the information technology industry have signed up, and e2i is in talks with other professional groups.

It also has about 200 volunteer "employability ambassadors", who will be given basic training in skills to guide peers to various jobs, skills and training resources.

"It's about having that knowledge such that if my neighbour loses his job, if my fellow engineer loses his job, I know what to do," said Mr Tan.

He hopes there will be at least 2,000 of these volunteers by the end of this year, from such groups as institutes of higher learning, grassroots organisations and the labour movement.