In Singapore, career paths traditionally focus on the profession or occupation that would meet an individual’s career goals. Nonetheless, most would change jobs more than three times during their entire career or work-life, and more often than not seldom consider a change in career path—profession or occupation.
Until recently, the idea of changing a career path is foreign to most, especially for those aged 50 and above. However, disruptive technologies in the past decade has caused a disconcerting issue in structural unemployment, when many displaced workers unable to find another job in the same occupation or profession, and made worse with difficulties in making a career switch.
Concurrently, with a growing gig economy which promote freelancing as a career option, with flexibility in time management and choice of workload, the employment landscape has been transformed dramatically—a cultural shock.
We have always been making a choice in the field of studies which would help determine our potential future career paths based on knowledge and skills. However, there is a wide range of career options for similar applications of knowledge and skills—especially some generic soft-skills required in many different jobs.
This then begs the question of how would a student, while in school, would know the portfolio of knowledge and skills required for future career paths, with the current disruptive and uncertain conditions?
For example, how many businesses in the retail sector would have foreseen the impact of online shopping brought about by Amazon and Alibaba? How has the business model and market conditions changed the career paths in this sector?
Now, digital technology such as Internet of Things (IoT) has become a prominent topic dominating social media, with big data analytics courses in hot demand. The lagging market supply is apparently playing catch up to meet the fast-growing market demand, with many working professionals still pretty clueless how this would impact their jobs, or career options in future.
All these dynamic market forces have caused lots of turmoil in the labour market, with many scrambling to equip themselves with the necessary skills to alleviate the transition required in their current career paths.
Moving forward, what transformations would be required in our entire education and training ecosystem to help better prepare our younger generations for the future workforce? It looks like we need a major revamp of the ecosystem, starting with our mindset toward the learning and development of our young in schools to equip them with the necessary capabilities for the future workplace.
Perhaps a more holistic and comprehensive education across different subjects, with the need to review how we define and structure the current subjects that are taught in schools currently. Finland is already experimenting with a new approach with a less structured topic system for their education in schools. Or perhaps we need to incorporate soft-skills training into the subjects being taught in schools, which would require a blended system for learning.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Peter Loh is a Market, Business & Competitive Intelligence Professional. More than 20 years experience in marketing/business/competitive intelligence, business planning and supply chain functions, across electronics, automotive, telecommunication and oil & gas industries, with regional and global coverage.