Required skills need to match job seekers' aptitude, interest

I refer to Mr Tan Kar Quan's letter on the unrealistic expectations of some job seekers in their mid-40s to early-60s (Job seekers must have realistic expectations; May 5).

I have observed the same, and I am wondering what the cause might be, though two possibilities come to mind.

First, there is a lot of media publicity about the shortage of people for certain jobs like that of a data scientist.

Second, programmes for retraining and upskilling professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) for such jobs are readily available.

I am guessing that somewhere along the line, the unrealistic job seeker has bought into the hype that as long as one sets his mind on retraining or upskilling himself for a new job, he can just miraculously do it and benefit from the high salaries these jobs come with.

While it is good for job seekers to have a positive attitude, they should set out to understand the skills required to perform these jobs, and see if these match their aptitude and interest.

During a recent recruitment drive for a rookie in the data analytics area, a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) opted to take advantage of Workforce Singapore's Professional Conversion Programme. These are career conversion programmes targeted at PMETs.

What made the company decide to go for it was not only the financial assistance on offer, but also its acute need and the availability of a suitable candidate.

While the candidate's educational and professional profile was somewhat relevant, the SME, nevertheless, had to take the chance that the candidate would be able to apply what he learnt to the job and stay with the company.

While it is helpful that there are such retraining programmes, it is unrealistic to expect that companies, especially SMEs, can readily rely on them as a means to fill in-demand jobs. Many SMEs just do not have the capacity to go through the grant application process, as well as mentor a rookie.

I am happy to report that, in this instance, the candidate did not demand an unrealistic pay despite knowing that the SME would receive salary support. In fact, he is clear that this period is for him to hone his skill and convince the firm that he is worth retaining.

Sad to say, such sensible individuals who are willing to invest in learning for a new job are scarce.

Pauline Margaret Chung Pui Lan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2018, with the headline 'Required skills need to match job seekers' aptitude, interest'. Print Edition | Subscribe