Workers get tips on staying relevant in the digital age

SPH Integrated Marketing Division's head of media solutions Ignatius Low (left) moderating a dialogue titled Are Singaporeans ready for global exposure? Panellists included (from second left) Ms Jaclyn Lee, senior director, human resources and organi
SPH Integrated Marketing Division's head of media solutions Ignatius Low (left) moderating a dialogue titled Are Singaporeans ready for global exposure? Panellists included (from second left) Ms Jaclyn Lee, senior director, human resources and organisation development, Singapore University of Technology and Design; Ms Grace Ho, chief commercial officer, Singapore Post Limited; and Mr Marc McAllister, vice-president and managing director, Harley-Davidson.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

The traits Singapore professionals need to cultivate to get ahead are to show they can think big picture, spot trends and are willing to learn.

These were among suggestions that bosses and top recruiters gave yesterday afternoonat a conference on ways workers can embrace change in the digital age.

Ms Elaine Yew, a global executive committee member at recruitment company Egon Zehnder, urged workers to show more big-picture thinking at discussions and overcome their natural hesitation in what is seen as self-promotion.

Ms Sabrina Tan, founder and chief executive of home-grown skincare brand Skin Inc, said a key trait, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs, is to be able to identify trends. For instance, she predicted nine years ago that customisation and e-commerce would be the next big thing, and she organised her company around that.

She encourages her staff to be socially connected and ready to learn, she added. "Those of us in our 40s, when we saw (the social media app) Snapchat we didn't know what it was... This is why we have reverse mentoring in which older ones can learn from younger ones," she told professionals, managers and executives at the event, which was organised by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).

Minister of State for Communications and Information, and Education Janil Puthucheary said if Singapore can solve the skills gap, the country will be in a strong position because it still retains its competitive advantages.

These include a good geographical location close to young, growing populations and a workforce with a solid foundation of talent and skills.

He said the Government is committed to developing workers in a resilient way, such as through making the education system more responsive to industry needs and encouraging a vibrant adult learning scene.

The opportunities are not just for young people, Dr Janil added. "You can be retrained and reskilled well into many decades of life, well past your 40s, 50s and 60s."

NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay said that amid the job losses are job gains in various industries. "I would urge all of you to embrace the change before the change overwhelms and embraces you."

Agreeing, Ms Wini Soo, an operations manager in media and advertising, said an open mind is crucial for adapting to innovations.

With her experience in the IT sector, she said, she is working with her firm's IT team to develop software to automate certain processes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2016, with the headline 'Workers get tips on staying relevant in the digital age'. Print Edition | Subscribe