Left: As a Manager in the Planning & Programmes Division (PPD) within SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Claire develops and manages Training and Adult Education-related policies & strategic programmes, and carries out the Continuing Education and Training landscape planning. The SSG-WSG Scholarship sponsored her Bachelor of Arts and Social Science (Economics) from National University of Singapore.
Right: Shalinya Jeyabalan is a Manager in Workforce Singapore's (WSG's) Strategic & Resource Planning Division (SRPD) , which assists the Board and Senior Management in setting WSG's corporate direction and developing strategies and priorities for the medium and short-term period. She has a Bachelor of Science (Economics) from Singapore Management University, Summa Cum Laude.
Covid-19 had a devastating effect on jobs, with unemployment rates comparable to previous recessionary highs during the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the global financial crisis from 2008 to 2009.
In this situation, the role of Workforce Singapore (WSG), which develops and promotes the employability of our workforce, and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), responsible for upskilling Singaporeans, are crucial. Their unstinting work can be seen everywhere – from the well-attended job fairs in heartland centres, to the curated and constantly updated MySkillsFuture and MyCareersFuture portals.
Developing Human Capital
For SSG-WSG scholars Claire Chew and Shalinya Jeyabalan, they have never felt more invigorated and fulfilled as now. As a Manager in the Planning & Programmes Division (PPD) within SSG, Claire develops and manages Training and Adult Education-related policies and strategic programmes. She also carries out the Continuing Education and Training landscape planning.
“As I manage the two key programmes in supporting individuals in their upskilling and reskilling journey during this difficult time, I feel deeply honoured to be part of this impactful project that supports many Singaporeans to better their lives by enabling them to grow their most important asset particularly in this climate – their human capital,” she asserted.
She is also proud of two programmes she helped launch recently, the SGUnited Skills Programme and the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme. These programmes under the national SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package offer job, traineeship and skills training opportunities to support more than 100,000 Singaporean jobseekers affected by the economic impact of COVID-19.
Shalinya feels a similar sense of happiness and honour as a Manager in WSG's Strategic & Resource Planning Division (SRPD), which assists the Board and Senior Management in setting WSG's corporate direction and developing strategies and priorities for the medium and short-term. For her, the bottom line is always making sure Singaporeans can obtain and stay in gainful employment.
“I feel WSG's work gives them hope that times are not as bleak as they seem and that there is a reliable support system available for them,” said Shalinya. “I'm also glad to see how fast WSG has responded in ramping up outreach efforts and opportunities for affected workers which can make a positive impact on their lives.”
While Claire's work is more external-facing, Shalinya puts her efforts into keeping the morale within her organisation high. By creating internal tracking indicators which credited WSG's efforts as a whole, she and her team were able to provide their colleagues with a measurable indicator of success for their work. Such benchmarks are vital in maintaining employee morale and tracking employee contributions.
The “Soft” Benefit
When asked about her academic qualifications, however, Shalinya was quick to admit that a Bachelor of Science (Economics) from Singapore Management University did not have much direct relevance to her work.
But she quickly sets us straight about the value of the degree SSG-WSG sponsored. “It is the soft skills such as communication, teamwork and critical thinking that help me come up with solutions to the tasks I deal with at work as I have to interact with many people across various portfolios on a daily basis,” she explained.
Claire concurred, emphasising that the “soft skills” acquired at school can make all the difference at work. Hence, students should make full use of their undergraduate days to learn such skills.
In addition, the joint scholarship between the two agencies will provide Claire and Shalinya with ample growth opportunities.
Two Agencies, Both a Place to Grow
The two were eager to share what SSG-WSG has in store for others as well. Shalinya enthused: “WSG has many opportunities, from operational roles where you can be part of the team running career fairs for jobseekers, to data analytics where you analyse labour market data, to communications and outreach where you promote and educate jobseekers on WSG's programmes, to strategic planning where you interact with various agencies, Ministries, and companies to coordinate the developments and rollout of WSG's programmes.”
Claire also pointed out another big draw of the SSG-WSG Scholarship – they practise what they preach. “We promote a learning culture where we have year-long activities to engage and encourage staff to continue learning even as we work hard together to help fellow Singaporeans upskill,” she added. These include internal and external staff rotations, and regular performance reviews to keep officers on the growth track.
Through the SSG-WSG Scholarship and the work of the two agencies, Claire and Shalinya have been able to accomplish a task never more vital than before – helping Singaporeans gain employment and skills to weather the uncertain future.
A Job with Meaning
Such a huge endeavour needs more support than ever. “Helping people find passion in what they do, ensuring that they can go about their daily lives can make a huge difference to a person's life. Being part of this journey is extremely fulfilling,” said Shalinya.
Claire had been learning Korean merely as a hobby, but was in for a surprise when her language skills helped her host a group of Korean visitors to SSG.
“If you're interested in learning about various job industries in Singapore and how you can reduce labour market frictions, WSG would be a great place to start!”
Claire responded similarly, reminding aspiring scholars that “you are your own best asset”.
She encouraged: “Aspiring scholars should join SSG-WSG if they want to better the lives of Singaporeans and also be challenged in their critical thinking skills, because the work is fast-paced as we shape the rapidly changing training landscape.”