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Why we should upskill ourselves to stay relevant, regardless of ability

Let us face it – no one is indispensable. Machinery has replaced manual labour. Traditional marketing like magazines & out of home (OOH) advertising is being replaced by digital consumption and media buys. Even in a job description, the role of a Marketer requires digital marketing skills and Adobe software knowledge.

For the second time in a row, Singapore retained its top spot as the world’s most competitive economy in the latest edition of the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking. This is assessed based on several factors such as education system, technological infrastructure, and availability of skilled labour. As advanced as we are to the rest of the World, most of us in fact are struggling to keep up with the fast-paced environment in Singapore and staying relevant.

Singapore’s workforce is competitive

It is common to hear that fresh graduates are unable to find jobs or face uncertainty in what they want to do, while mid-career workers are usually the victims of retrenchment in times of recession. Now in the midst of a pandemic, corporate casualties have risen, affecting both employers and employees alike. However, looking on the positive side, we have seen examples of resilience among the community, switching careers to meet changing job demands and seizing opportunities. In a post-pandemic economy, the workforce will get even more competitive. A UOB survey found that nine in ten of those employed in the city-state believe they will need to reskill or upskill to stay competitive in the post-pandemic world.

But thankfully, we have a supportive Government, and several schemes were launched to help Singaporeans. If you have been thinking about that particular course you are interested in, just sign up for it. Regardless of whether it is related to your career or for a new hobby, picking up new knowledge is beneficial to you. Below is an inexhaustive list of schemes/programmes you can tap on for your consideration.

#1: SkillsFuture and what is in it for me?

SkillsFuture is a national movement to encourages us to take ownership of our lifelong learning and skill development. All individuals above 25 years old were given a starting fund of $500 and you can use it for any course; related to your profession or not. All in all, SkillsFuture has something for everyone in almost every stage in life, regardless of whether you are a young professional, mid-career professional or returning worker. Find out more about the available courses on the Skillfuture website.

#2: Workfare Skills Support (WSS) Scheme

The Workfare Skills Support (WSS) Scheme encourages low wage workers to undertake training that leads to more impactful employment outcomes. Eligible individuals aged 35 years and above (13 years and above for Persons with Special Needs) may receive training allowance for selected courses that individuals have paid for themselves. A cash reward upon training completion will also be given. For more information on this initiative, visit:

#3: SkillsFuture Mid-Career Enhanced Subsidy

For mid-career individuals, here is some good news. This programme is catered mainly for you if you want to stay responsive to a changing workplace, encouraging yourself to upskill and reskill as and when required. Individuals aged 40 years and above will receive high subsidies of up to 90% of course fees with over a selection of 8,000 SSG-supported courses.

With so many support programmes available, just make good use of it-lah

For instance, I have utilised my first $500 SkillsFuture fund on a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) course and my second $500 SkillsFuture fund on a Digital Advertising course, both conducted by Equinet Academy. Both courses helped me tremendously as I applied my knowledge in my job as a Digital Marketer.

Besides my SkillsFuture fund, I also tapped on other assistance that is readily available to people with disabilities. Having been diagnosed with bilateral hearing impairment at the age of 5, I have been wearing hearing aids since then. Graduated with a Business degree, I wanted to work in the Digital Marketing industry, but it was tough to enter without prior knowledge or experience to start with. It was an unclear road then.

Unsure of your career path? You are not alone – opportunities will come by

It all happened when I chanced upon an email from Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf). Facilitated by Make The Change (a social enterprise), there was a 6-month Digital Marketing course catered for People with Disabilities (PWDs) and SADeaf was spreading awareness about this course. The best thing is that the course fees is heavily subsidised by the Government and on top of that, it is claimable with SkillsFuture credit. We were also given training allowances at the end of the course. What could be even better than learning and getting paid at the same time? This course marked my first step to my goal of being a Digital Marketer. It was an extensive course conducted by experienced professionals and we learnt a lot from their knowledge. Towards the end of the course, we were given an Industrial Orientation Project (IOP) where we worked on a social media brief and proposal for our client. It was a great experience.

After the course I started working as an intern for an agency and took on additional freelance projects. And another opportunity came – Make The Change approached me if I was interested to apply for the role of Digital Marketing Executive for Klosh. That was how I got my first role as a Digital Marketer! It was a role where I learnt everything from the ground up, and it felt satisfying to be able to apply my knowledge from all the courses I attended and to gain new experiences.

My learning did not stop there

Wanting to be an all-rounded Digital Marketer, I told myself to pick up Adobe software skills and signed up for a Photoshop course under the Workfare Training Support (WTS) scheme. I learnt basic knowledge of what Photoshop is about, its functions and available tools. Years later, I am now learning a bit of In Design, as well as Adobe Illustrator.

Recently, I also attended a 6-month Content Writing Programme from Make The Change. In this course, we learned about creating different types of content not limited to GIFs, videos, infographics, static images and articles. It is all about reaching out to our target audience and engaging them organically. Similar to the first Digital Marketing course, we were also given an opportunity to work on an article for our client, which is how this article came about!

There are actually lots of support being offered to PWDs and am incredibly grateful for it. Having tapped on all the support available, I have attended a total of 6 courses, all relating to eCommerce & Digital Marketing. If you are a PWD like me and want to find out more about the schemes available, check out this useful link with all the available support listed.

All in all, upskill yourself and own your future or be left behind? You decide

According to an article from The Woke Salaryman, they summarised three different types of employees as below.

In order to stay competitive and relevant in the workforce, it is best that we acquire different skillsets that offer value to both ourselves and our employers. With so many schemes and support readily available regardless of ability, it is up to us whether we want to take the first step and take advantage of these resources. Of course, the wise ones will empower themselves, gain new skills and expand their network. What about yourself?

Special thanks to Jia En from Make The Change for this article.


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