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Back in the workforce, IT man refuses to rest on his laurels

SINGAPORE — A willingness to continuously refresh his skills and having the gumption to move into new areas helped IT professional Kamarudin Osman, 56, bounce back from not just one but two retrenchments.

After Mr Kamarudin Osman was laid off, he took several courses to upgrade his skills, including an Oracle database administration course from Oracle University. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

After Mr Kamarudin Osman was laid off, he took several courses to upgrade his skills, including an Oracle database administration course from Oracle University. Photo: Nuria Ling/TODAY

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SINGAPORE — A willingness to continuously refresh his skills and having the gumption to move into new areas helped IT professional Kamarudin Osman, 56, bounce back from not just one but two retrenchments.

The information systems and management graduate received his first pink slip in 2005, when the pharmaceutical firm he was with underwent a merger. It took him a year to land another job.

After he was laid off, he took several courses to upgrade his skills, including an Oracle database administration course from Oracle University.

Mr Kamarudin said improving his skills has been a continuous process since he stepped into the IT field in 1999. He would regularly identify knowledge gaps, and with his career goals and interests in mind, chart a plan to upgrade his skills.

In 2015, when he was working as the Middle East and Asia region manager for on-site support at a manufacturing and servicing multinational, he was retrenched again. But this time he was better prepared.

Just a week before that, he had completed a professional diploma in enterprise resource planning at training institute Lithan Academy, with subsidies under the Government’s National Infocomm Competency Framework (NICF).

“I knew that there was a plan for restructuring and … there’s a chance that in this industry, you might be retrenched. So I took this course to build my knowledge … (so) I could move into a new area of IT,” said Mr Kamarudin, who was cited on Sunday (Aug 20) by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech in Malay as an example of how the Government is supporting workers to retrain.

It was not the first time the father-of-five upgraded his skills while still in a job. In 2013, he underwent an IT leadership programme at the National University of Singapore, also under the NICF, to stay up to speed.

After he was laid off in 2015, he sent his resume to recruitment firms. This yielded three or four interviews but they did not pan out.

During his job hunt, he happened upon the Cyber Security Associates and Technologists (CSAT) programme, a joint initiative of the Info-communications Media Development Authority and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore.

After reading up extensively on cyber-security, a fast-growing area in the IT sector, Mr Kamarudin decided to join the six-month training programme and was accepted by telecommunications company Singtel, one of the participating firms, in July last year.

He picked up knowledge and skills in cyber-security frameworks, policies, procedures and tools. Completing the programme in January, he works as an IT security consultant at Singtel where his team handles duties spanning security, governance and compliance for the firm’s as well as its customers’ information-systems infrastructure, including handling and containing cyber-security incidents.

The CSAT programme also came with professional certification, such as Certified Incident Handler from the information-security training provider EC-Council.

Though he is back in the workforce, Mr Kamarudin is not resting on his laurels.

For example, he plans to fork out S$2,500 to undergo a Certified Chief Information Security Officer training programme at EC-Council, with training grants from the Government.

“I’m continuously also upgrading myself so that I can move up ... in this cyber-security field,” he told TODAY.

His goal is to assume a middle-management role after picking up the requisite knowledge and skills.

“You have to continuously keep abreast and invest in yourself so that when the opportunity arises, you are prepared and ready to move into the next role … in order to be relevant in any field — in fact, IT in particular,” he said.

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