SINGAPORE - Looking to get back into full-time employment in February after leaving her marketing role with a local bank in 2018 to focus on family, Ms Genevieve Gay hardly expected to be still searching for a job after six months.
But the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic earlier this year drastically changed the complexion of the job market for the worse.
"It has been extremely difficult because firstly, the kind of roles that (mid-career professionals) are looking for are far and few between," said Ms Gay, a 47-year-old single mother to a 16-year-old son.
"For a lot of junior roles as well, even if you are willing to take a lower pay, companies are not willing to consider you. It can be demoralising when you cannot land a job or even an interview," she said on Tuesday (Sept 22).
Ms Gay is now looking to acquire new skills and knowledge in artificial intelligence (AI) that she can combine with her years of marketing experience. She is part of the first batch of mid-career professionals to embark on a six-month training course conducted by IBM.
The course is part of IBM's new i.am-vitalize programme launched on Monday, which aims to train 800 mid-career professionals in AI and cyber security by the end of next year.
Another trainee Paul Lai, 54, left his job as a secondary school mathematics teacher in January after 17 years and has also endured a fruitless job search thus far.
"I'm hoping that the course will be able to help me bridge the skills gap in terms of my employability as I already have some prior knowledge in the technology field," said Mr Lai, who worked in the financial sector as a systems analyst prior to becoming a teacher.
Ms Gay said she has enjoyed the hands-on nature of the course so far and is looking forward to learning how AI can address real-life business needs.
"I think we have to look at how AI fits in with our own daily lives, and see the things that can be made more efficient," she added.
"We just need to start thinking differently and change our mindsets to unlock new opportunities for us to create better solutions that actually work and at the end of the day are relevant to customers."