Do you really need skills upgrading?

The Singapore government has always encouraged continuous learning and skills training—you’re never too old or young to pick up something new or to level up your current skill sets. We speak to Wendy Lee, General Manager at Impact Singapore for some insights on the importance of training and skills upgrading.

Skills upgrading not only gives you a competitive edge when it comes to your work performance, it can also enhance your career prospects if you’re looking for new opportunities. According to Wendy Lee, who has been in the learning and development industry for almost 18 years, continuous learning is crucial in keeping up with today’s rapidly changing technological advancements and market conditions. At Impact Singapore, she works with clients to think through talent development needs that will help the company’s overall business strategy. Then they collaborate on designing and delivering learning solutions to address skill gaps.

She tells us more about the role of skills upgrading in career growth and discusses some industry trends she has observed in recent years.

Why is skills upgrading important?

Continuous learning is a core element in employee development and engagement. The pace of change has been accelerating and today’s skills will quickly become outdated by new technologies and market conditions. Obtaining new skills in both your current area of expertise and adjacent—or even different domains—allows employees to be more agile in their current roles. Skills upgrading also increases employee mobility between roles.

Who can benefit most from skills upgrading? And what’s the ideal type of skills upgrading for every career level?

Everyone can benefit from skills upgrading. The important thing to keep in mind is your ultimate goal. For new graduates or those early in their careers, new skills are more easily obtained within existing roles or by taking on stretch projects within their organisations. For mid-career staff, skills upgrading could help improve your performance in your current role, or prepare for the next role. Senior staff should focus on new skills that help them with their ability to create and drive business strategy.

How should people approach skills upgrading?

It’s important to approach skills upgrading with an open and growth mindset. Any new opportunity can be a learning opportunity. A growth mindset helps us to remember that we are never too old to learn and grow. On top of that, I think it is important to look for opportunities to apply new learning back to your day-to-day as soon as possible. This helps you to really embed the new skills in a practical way that will build your confidence.

What industry trends have you observed in the region in the past few years?

Soft skills like communication, influencing and leadership are always in high demand as they apply to all levels and to any situation. Managing change and disruption, and strategic thinking have been big topics even prior to COVID-19 and have become even more relevant in the last year. In 2020, the need for leadership development was as important as ever with the focus narrowing in on the skills for managing disruption and how to help others thrive versus just trying to survive the pandemic.

From a technical skills perspective, data and analytics are on the rise, while many knowledge-based skills are less in demand as artificial intelligence improves.

Any parting advice?

Take advantage of learning opportunities. Sometimes it may feel like we are too busy to learn new things and only attend training sessions when they are compulsory, but you should take advantage of these opportunities offered by your employer or through government subsidies.

You should also leverage digital learning opportunities that are accessible through platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Udemy and Coursera. There are many free and affordable courses that you can access at your own pace and undertake on your own time schedule.

About Impact Singapore

Impact is a custom, experiential learning and development firm. Their programmes cover a wide range of topics from leadership development to strategic thinking, and they work across all levels from graduate development all the way to senior executive teams. Their learning solutions are customised and specific to the goals of the organisation they work with. Their vision is to make learning challenging, practical and transformational.

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