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Reskilling in the face of change: Inspiring journeys from pandemic uncertainty to thriving careers

The COVID-19 pandemic hit these job-seekers hard, but upskilling at NTUC LearningHub helped them to forge new career paths.

Since 2017, Mr Tan, 38, had been running a board game shop that welcomed families and friends for leisurely play and camaraderie.

Playtime ended, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020. Mr Tan shifted his business online, but he also knew he had to develop a plan for the long term. Contemplating the uncertain timeline of the pandemic, Mr Tan thought: “What if the pandemic persists for a year, or even two?” Driven by these concerns, he decided to return to the corporate world.

Formerly a project management professional, Mr Tan charted a return to the field. Knowing that he had to update his skill set to compete in the present-day job market, he enrolled for courses in Agile and project management at NTUC LearningHub. 

“Tech is an ever-evolving sector. What you learnt today can become obsolete tomorrow,” he explained. “This is something I tell my friends – that I must know ‘what is happening tomorrow, yesterday’. That’s why my motto is to never stop learning.”

Armed with his newfound proficiencies, Mr Tan secured a role as an assistant project manager in the IT software development sector in 2021. Today, as a project manager, he attributes his success in the field to the courses he undertook at NTUC LearningHub, which enhanced his value as an employee.

The knowledge he acquired remains acutely relevant to his current work: “I am engaged in various projects that span the gamut from Waterfall to Agile methodologies. Not all companies in Singapore have embraced the Agile approach, and hence, I need to enlighten my clients on its benefits, such as how Agile methodology enables iterative adjustments, resulting in outcomes that align more closely with their expectations.”

During his time at NTUC LearningHub, he had the opportunity to interact with peers from tech and non-tech backgrounds. “I was particularly inspired by a fellow course mate who was a senior in his late 50s,” he recalled. “He exemplified what it means to never stop learning.”

Taking this motto on board, Mr Tan chose to continue upskilling even beyond the pandemic. Last December, he signed up for NTUC LearningHub’s Project Management Institute (PMI)-Agile Certified Practitioner course: “PMI is the gold standard in project management and possessing this credential will propel me even further in my career.”

BECOMING MORE AGILE IN TECH

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in management, Mr Vikaraman, 33, embarked on his career as a project engineer in the construction industry. However, harbouring a longstanding passion for technology, he soon decided to set his course in that direction.

He joined a local IT start-up but was retrenched in July 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Undaunted, Mr Vikaraman knew that he had to upskill to remain employable.

He turned to NTUC LearningHub, completing most of the Certified Scrum Master, Certified Scrum Product Owner and ICAgile courses, in addition to courses in cloud engineering.

“I had a keen interest in Agile and Scrum methodologies. The Agile courses from NTUC LearningHub appealed to me as they were funded by the Institute of Banking and Finance, and NTUC LearningHub has a good track record for delivering quality courses.”

Besides the engaging course curriculum, Mr Vikaraman enjoyed networking with and learning from his course mates. “The insights shared by trainers, who are industry practitioners themselves, also broadened my perspectives,” he added.

Today, as an innovation executive at a homegrown supply chain solutions firm with an expansive Asian network, Mr Vikaraman said that his new skills enable him to contribute to the digital transformation of his workplace.

“These skills have helped me in my job, where I am involved in exploring technologies and innovations such as artificial intelligence, 5G, Internet of Things, robotics and automation,” he said. “The Agile mindset has empowered me to generate ideas that are out of the box.”

Mr Vikaraman, who plans to specialise in areas such as cybersecurity and move into a consulting role, reflected that lifelong learning is as much about changing oneself as it is about changing careers. He said: “It is important to be open and to have a growth mindset where you are always seeking opportunities to upskill and pivot into emerging industries.”

Thinking of a career switch? Take the first step by visiting NTUC LearningHub to learn how upskilling can help you.  

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