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Upskilling opens doors for mid-career switchers in their 40s

NTUC LearningHub’s training courses offered them job-ready skills that made it possible to pivot to new roles and industries.

Upskilling opens doors for mid-career switchers in their 40s

Having written and self-published a book, Ms Cathie Chew wanted to learn marketing and branding skills to help her book reach a wider audience. Photos: NTUC LearningHub

NTUC LearningHub’s training courses offered them job-ready skills that made it possible to pivot to new roles and industries.

Ms Cathie Chew, 49, had been an insurance agent for 24 years when her husband lost his hearing after complications that resulted from the consumption of raw fish.

She gave up her career and put her life on hold as she became his full-time primary caregiver. After close to four years, her husband’s condition stabilised and Ms Chew could then focus on planning her next career step.

Realising that she had so much to share about her caregiving journey, Ms Chew decided to write and self-publish a book – entitled From Raw Meal to Real Deal. The project was a form of emotional catharsis for the couple and it helped to lift her husband out of his depression. It was also a chance for them to reconnect and work together as he edited the book.

To help her book reach a wider audience, Ms Chew took up courses in Business Model Canvas, Agility in Marketing, Digital Platforms Management, and Usability Engineering at continuing education and training provider NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB).

In addition to acquiring marketing and branding skills for her book, she wanted to deepen her professional skillsets – and the courses delivered.

Business Model Canvas taught her to analyse her business objectives, strengths, weaknesses and unique selling points. Equipped with this knowledge, she now needed to know how to apply what she learnt to reach her target audiences.

Enter Agility in Marketing, which educated Ms Chew on the multiple platforms that reach different audiences, which helped make her a more effective marketer.

This was taken a step further by the Usability Engineering course, which helped her gain a deeper understanding of consumers and the finer points of audience engagement.

“As a self-publisher and entrepreneur, it kept me motivated as NTUC LHUB offered courses with learning objectives that were aligned with my business goals and what I wanted to achieve for my book,” she said. “The courses also kept me active, both intellectually and socially. I gained new skills and knowledge, and got to know my course mates, some of whom I still keep in contact with today.”

Ms Chew used her SkillsFuture Credits to fund these courses. As an NTUC Union member, she was able to tap into her Union Training Assistance Programme to further fund the courses. She has since written four more books.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO LIFELONG LEARNING

Ms Chew is not alone in recognising the importance of upskilling. By embracing a lifelong learning mindset, individuals can acquire the skills needed for a successful career switch – such as pivoting to new job roles or industries.  

With numerous training support and funding schemes available, upskilling in job-ready skills through world-class training content at NTUC LHUB is made accessible. Such skills include Critical Core Skills or adaptive skills, and Tech-Lite Skills, which are considered foundational and transferable competencies for everyone. 

“These skills will enable workers to boost their foundational competencies and digital fluency. NTUC LHUB’s outcome-focused training serves to equip individuals with Critical Core Skills and Tech-Lite Skills, which will help them regardless of sectors or job functions, to adapt well to digital transformation and efficiently navigate workplace disruptions,” explained NTUC LHUB’s director of strategy, Ms Soh Hooi Peng.

Two other NTUC LHUB trainees, who are also in their 40s, share their lifelong learning journeys and resulting career transformations.

PIVOTING TO TECH

After being retrenched, Mr Husni Saliman decided to upskill himself and enrolled in the SGUnited Skills (SGUS) Desktop Support Engineer Programme.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mr Husni Saliman was retrenched from his event management job in the hospitality and tourism sector. Turning the setback into an opportunity, Mr Husni, 41, decided to upskill himself in information technology (IT), a field he had been interested in since he was young – but had not had the chance to pursue.

At NTUC LHUB, he enrolled in the nine-month SGUnited Skills (SGUS) Desktop Support Engineer Programme and was able to land a one-year internship at an IT solutions company. He chose the programme as it would give him the skills to find a tech-related job, and it also provided an allowance to tide over the loss of his job.

Mid-way through his internship, he impressed the company enough to be offered a full-time role in IT infrastructure administration as a service delivery manager. While he left the SGUS programme six months in to join the company, the modules he studied and the network of mentors and peers he established through the programme benefited him in his newfound career.

“I had the opportunity to interact with peers with similar interests, which boosted my interest in the tech industry,” he recounted. “The curriculum and training content at NTUC LHUB are industry-relevant and comprehensive. In addition, the programme trainers had vast amounts of industry experience and connections. They mentored me and gave me the confidence to pivot into the tech sector.” 

“NTUC LHUB gives individuals a good base to build from, even if they are new to the sector,” he said. 

SAFETY PROTOCOLS THAT ADD VALUE AT WORK

Mr Terry Koh enrolled in NTUC LHUB’s Digital Health, Safety and Environment Executive course and has been appointed in a new hybrid role heading his company's workplace safety and health initiatives.

Different industry, same skills – and with his recent skills upgrade, Mr Terry Koh also got an expansion in job scope and responsibility.

Mr Koh worked in the sales sector in the marine and offshore industry before he was retrenched. Feeling lost, he decided to expand his skillsets to boost his employability.

Mr Koh, 43, was inspired by his wife, who works in the healthcare sector. It was partly because of her that he appreciated the importance of health and safety at the workplace. He enrolled in NTUC LHUB’s Digital Health, Safety and Environment Executive course and has since attained his specialist diploma in the field.

After upskilling, he secured a job as a market sales manager in the wastewater management sector. He carried over his adaptive skills of people management, negotiation and communication to his new role, and has also been appointed to head up his company’s workplace safety and health initiatives.

“Learning new knowledge and skills kept me positive while I was searching for employment after being retrenched,” he said. “My network also expanded when I joined the course. In my line of work, getting to know people from different sectors and industries is important.”

Looking back on his journey across industries, he advises others to embrace upskilling: “When I was retrenched, I was worried that my family could not survive on my wife’s income alone. But I stayed committed to my upskilling journey and when the opportunity arose, I was able to make full use of it to gain new employment.”

Ready to give your career a boost with NTUC LearningHub? Visit the website to learn more about transforming your career.

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NTUC LearningHub lifelong learning upskilling

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