More help for mid-career workers moving into professional services sector

Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said there will be more opportunities for Singapore companies as regional demand for such services are likely to grow.
Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said there will be more opportunities for Singapore companies as regional demand for such services are likely to grow.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Mid-career professionals will get more help to gear up for new jobs in the professional services sector.

Professional conversion programmes (PCP) are in the works for the fields of internal audit, consulting, and programmatic advertising, Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo said on Tuesday (Oct 24).

These programmes are aimed at helping mid-career professionals gain skills to move into the professional services sector or into new roles in their companies, and are part of a larger effort to match Singaporeans to jobs in growth industries which require higher-skilled workers.

The professional services sector inclues architecture and engineering, accounting, consulting, advertising and marketing, design, legal and head office services.

Mrs Teo said there will be more opportunities for Singapore companies as regional demand for such services are likely to grow.

She added that disruption in business models also creates the need for consultancy services.

There are over 10 PCPs in the professional services industry so far, and some 160 people have participated from January to October this year.

About 4 in 10 of them are older professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) aged 40 and above, said Mrs Teo, who spoke to reporters at a seminar on attracting talent for the professional services sector.

She noted that companies in the sector value such workers, saying: "When you are approaching and dealing with clients, to be able to present from among your talent someone with experience, who has worked on many different types of projects, and has breadth and depth to bring to the table, is actually a plus."

The professional services sector is one of five priority industries identified by the Government earlier this year for more job support.

The other four are healthcare, infocomm and media, wholesale trade and financial services.

These industries are likely to be the most affected by disruptive technology going forward, but at the same time have tremendous potential for job growth. Between them, they currently employ almost a million workers.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah, who is overseeing efforts in the professional services and financial services industries, said professional services has grown into a key pillar of Singapore's economy, contributing $25 billion in output, or 6.4 per cent of gross domestic product, in 2015.

Employment in the sector also grew 5 per cent per year on average from 2011 to 2015.

Speaking at the seminar on Tuesday organised by Workforce Singapore and the Singapore National Employers Federation, she said the sector is being disrupted by technological innovation and digital business models, and companies and workers alike need to adapt to the changes.

In advertising, for instance, companies now need workers with the skills to handle tasks in programmatic advertising, she added. This field involves the use of algorithms to buy and sell targeted advertising space.

Ms Indranee said her workgroup will focus on getting relevant information to jobseekers, addressing skills gaps through training, and job matching.

She called on employers to partner with the Government in these efforts and also urged them to be open to hiring older workers and those who are learning new skills for the new jobs.

"If we can ramp up our efforts to help workers adapt and grow, the workers will be able to benefit from the new job opportunities being created and at the same time address the talent needs of the companies," she told about 150 company officials at the event held at Royal Plaza on Scotts.

Speaking to reporters after the event, she said the Government will work closely with industry associations to tailor help for the different segments within the professional services sector, such as by addressing their manpower and training needs through PCPs and university modules.