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More older employees embrace technology to stay current

SkillsFuture courses see an uptick in older applicants as they strive to stay current

Osmond Chia on 26 May 2020

The New Paper


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Mid-career and senior employees find themselves having to step out of their comfort zone and embrace technology to stay relevant, as businesses are reshaped by the impact of Covid-19.


Mr Bernard Chew, 45, regularly registers for new SkillsFuture courses despite successfully switching to the IT industry as a systems engineer in 2017 after years as a tutor.


He recently signed up for IT-related modules as he felt there was a growing demand.


Fearing his job prospects were at risk to younger employees, Mr Chew told The New Paper he felt the need to equip himself with more skills.


He added: "I knew I had to continue to upgrade. There was a lot to learn, I think learning never stops."


Senior employees are also feeling the pressure to embrace technology to upgrade their skills.


BHG retail associate Suzie Wee, 68, rarely had to deal with computers in her 25 years at the company until she was told upgrading courses were conducted online.


The company had arranged customer service training and new instructions on deliveries as BHG prepare to launch its e-commerce platform next month.


Ms Wee, the oldest employee at the Bishan BHG outlet, said: "When I was alone with the computer, I panicked. Thankfully, I had help from other staff members... I have to follow the trend of going digital, otherwise I know I will be left behind."


BHG chief financial officer Jheeva Subramanian told TNP footfall had fallen to around 60 per cent last year, signalling for change.


"It is no secret that the retail landscape is more competitive than ever and the customer is in total control."


To capture customers' attention, retail options both online and physically are key, he said.


Opportunities for senior employees in tech-related roles are increasing.


DBS Bank said more than 360 jobs are being created for seasoned professionals in new technology areas.


The TechSkills Accelerator Mid-Career Advance programme on SkillsFuture by IMDA aims to support more than 2,000 mid-career workers aged 40 and above over the next two years, with training in tech-related roles.


An NTUC Learning Hub spokesman said the Digital Workplace course has seen an increase in participants, with around 18,000 learners yearly. Around 50 per cent are between 40 and 60 years old.


NTUC Learning Hub chief executive officer Kwek Kok Kwong said: "As companies transform, workers including mid-career workers must transform and keep pace with these changes. Not taking action or exploring is a sure way to lose out."


He added: "Mid-career workers come with a wealth of domain expertise and work experience, and they will thrive if they are keen learners of technology.


"They can create new value to customers and become valuable assets to companies."


Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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