For much of her career, Ms Maria Chow was selling things ranging from stationery to software.
But late last year, the 40-year-old decided to switch from her sales and operations job to one in digital advertising and marketing.
She had no experience in that area, but her new employer, public relations agency Affluence PR, sponsored her training under the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP) for digital advertising professionals.
More training programmes are in the works for mid-career professionals like her who are looking to take up the new jobs being created in the professional services sector.
Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo, speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on attracting talent for the sector, said some of the fields the new PCPs will cover are internal audit, consulting and programmatic advertising.
The professional services sector, which includes architecture and engineering, accounting, consulting, advertising and marketing, design, legal and head office services, is one of five priority industries identified by the Government earlier this year for more job support.
The others are healthcare, infocommunications and media, wholesale trade and financial services.
These industries currently employ almost a million workers in total and are likely to be the most affected by disruptive technology going forward, but they have great potential for job growth.
The PCPs help to prepare workers for the new jobs that will be created as the industries undergo change and are part of a larger effort to match Singaporeans to jobs in growth industries that need higher-skilled workers.
Currently, there are more than 10 PCPs for the professional services sector and some 160 people have participated in the programmes from January to this month.
Mrs Teo, noting that about four in 10 of them are professionals, managers, executives and technicians aged 40 and above, said firms in the sector value such workers as they have breadth and depth of experience.
EASING THE WAY
People my age may not be so open to change because of a fear of the unknown. The PCP helped to ease my way into the industry.
MS MARIA CHOW, 40, who considered the issue of age when she was deciding whether to switch careers, but had her concerns assuaged when she knew she would get help in training.
Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah, who also spoke at the seminar organised by Workforce Singapore and the Singapore National Employers Federation, said professional services have 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 grew 5 per cent a year on average from 2011 to 2015.
Ms Indranee, who oversees job support efforts in the professional and financial services industries, said: "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."
Speaking to reporters after the event held at Royal Plaza on Scotts, she said the Government will work closely with professional associations to tailor help for the different segments within the professional services sector.
She also told about 150 company officials at the seminar that she hoped employers would be open to hiring older workers and those learning new skills to switch careers.
The question of age did cross Ms Chow's mind when she was deciding whether to switch careers, but knowing she would get help in training helped to assuage her concerns. "People my age may not be so open to change because of a fear of the unknown. The PCP helped to ease my way into the industry," she said.