Learning > Work

I Did It, I Challenged It, and I Made It


Singapore Workforce Development Agency


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The metaphor of a road is often employed to describe a journey towards achievement and fulfilment. People typically use “career path” to describe the flow of their professional flight. Yet for many mature or would-be mature PMEs (Professionals, Managers and Executives), crossing the mid-point of their careers inevitably raises the question, “What’s next, if I’d like to share all this experience I have?” 



Ms Jennifer Lai, 61, is an adult educator who has completed the WSQ (Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications) Diploma in Adult Continuing Education (DACE) by Institute for Adult Learning (IAL). She is a trainer and assessor for the tourism and service industries. Speaking of her inspiring career switch to become an adult educator at a mature age, she admits there were challenges in such a big move: “Sometimes we don’t find it easy at all because they (the trainees) come from all walks of life. They face different problems.” However, what keeps her going is the fulfilment from knowing she has helped instil confidence and a sense of accomplishment in the adult learners. She shares, “I remember this worker who came to my course at the age of 59. He only spoke simple English. Now he is working in Sentosa and ... (he told me that) everyday, I’m using English.”



With pride in her voice, Lai sums up what the career switch means to her. “I changed my pathway at the age of 43. It took me awhile to say yes, because changing pathways is not easy. (But) I did it, I challenged it, and I made it.”



Another force in the CET community is from the retail industry. Ms June Kwah, 59, is Deputy CEO of Asia Academy for Retailing and Senior Director for Retailcom Pte Ltd. She holds the same diploma under her belt, with the addition of the postgraduate Master of Training and Development (MTD), a collaboration between IAL and Griffith University. She points to the need to have “a willingness to unlearn what (one) already knows and relearn the new career.” With adult learners, “the training methods are different. For the adults, we are talking about application, which we learn a lot at IAL.”



Kwah identifies IAL as the ideal place to start for those thinking of a career switch to adult education. For those who need a final push, it is helpful to remember that (to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw) you don't stop learning when you grow old; you grow old when you stop learning.



The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL) offers a meaningful look at what is next. By serving adult educators and PMEs, it realises the potential of mature workers by helping individuals find second careers as trainers, adult educators and assessors. In a rapidly changing economy where new skills and knowledge need to be constantly acquired, making the career switch to being an adult educator means staying relevant by contributing directly to the continuing education and training (CET) landscape. Forming an integral part of the CET infrastructure in the Singapore workforce, IAL explores new possibilities in enhancing the professionalism of adult educators, defining the standards in curriculum design, training delivery and assessment. It also leads research efforts in workforce development, and is funded by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). 



For more information on IAL, visit www.ial.edu.sg



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