NTUC sets up network for career guidance

e2i initiative links job-seekers with career coaches and peer volunteers

NTUC's e2i CEO Gilbert Tan talking about NTUC's new U Career Network. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

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 those looking for career guidance.

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

It was set up by the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i), which is part of the National Trades Union Congress.

In announcing the move yesterday, 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 accreditation 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 other coaches. More points are needed 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, now sees about 30 clients each month. This is far more than the minimum required for the senior PEC level of 40 clients a year from different occupations .

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

"Under the new framework, if our points are low in certain areas, we know those are areas we need to work on," she said, adding that she plans to take courses on mentoring other coaches.

Besides career coaches, e2i also wants to rope in industry professionals to mentor workers or give career talks to students. About 150 mentors 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 to guide peers to various jobsand training resources.

"It's about having that knowledge so 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.

Mr Matthew Chee, 43, who found a job as a manager at the Land Transport Authority last month after a six-month search, said tips from peers would be helpful.

The former managing director in a logistics company returned to Singapore last October after six years in Hong Kong. But he could not find a job, even at a lower pay, in related fields. He got his present position after a career coach from e2i encouraged him to widen his search.

"I'd be happy to help others in my position, share my experience in looking for a job here and tell them to press on," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline NTUC sets up network for career guidance. Subscribe