Left: Kelsie Tan Kai Xian is a Jobs-Skills Analyst, Jobs-Skills Insights Division, SkillsFuture Singapore. She is a recipient of the SSG-WSG Joint Undergraduate Scholarship and she holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from NTU.
Right: Lee Gek Ching is a Manager at New Operations Division, WorkForce Singapore. She is a SSG-WSG Joint Undergraduate Scholar, and she holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Sociology from NUS.
SkillsFuture Singapore Agency (SSG) and Workforce Singapore Agency (WSG) are two government agencies that play a big part in shaping the workforce of today and tomorrow. We also help employers/companies, and not solely individuals.
Given the enormous scope of the task, the two agencies operate closely: SSG focuses on promoting a culture of lifelong learning and skills mastery to foster a flexible and mobile workforce, as well as resilient businesses. WSG prepares our workforce and industries for current and future economic challenges by improving the employability of our workforce and helping enterprises remain competitive.
In some ways, Lee Gek Ching and Kelsie Tan Kai Xian are a microcosm of their organisations, epitomising the traits that SSG and WSG desire to promote a culture of lifelong learning. Gek Ching is a Manager in the New Operations Division at WSG while Kelsie is a Jobs-Skills Analyst with the Jobs-Skills Insights Division at SSG.
Kelsie’s work is centred on studying industry and technology developments to reveal Jobs-Skills Insights (JSI) that can help individuals, enterprises, trainers and policymakers evaluate jobs-skills needs and gaps better. Gek Ching is part of a team overseeing the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Placement Partners initiative, which seeks to help job seekers who are mature, long-term unemployed and people with disabilities find placements in companies.
Strikingly, both Kelsie and Gek Ching fit their roles to a tee: Kelsie believes strongly in embracing new perspectives that enrich one’s life and work, while Gek Ching is passionate about community engagement and the importance of empathy.
Gek Ching knew that she wanted a career in Human Resource development after striking up an unlikely friendship during her community outreach sessions in school. “He was an elderly man who sold newspapers unfailingly every morning. I came to understand that selling newspapers was more than a job to him as it gave him a sense of dignity since he was able to support himself. This made me realise that work is not only integral to one’s dignity, identity, and social networks, but it is also a powerful tool to empower people through a meaningful livelihood,” she explained.
The SSG-WSG scholarship – which Gek Ching discovered through BrightSparks – would lead her to a career that is aligned with her interest and passion for developing and empowering people. Kelsie also pointed out that the SSG-WSG Joint Undergraduate Scholarship was one of the few scholarships for Humanities undergraduates.
And like Gek Ching, Kelsie also resonated strongly with the agencies’ mission of Lifelong Learning and Individual Empowerment. She has many interests and enjoyed learning new and purposeful things that lead to self-improvement. “The future of skills and work is an exciting place to be in, and SSG plans and charts workable paths for individuals amidst the inescapable uncertainty. No one really knows what the future will entail, but we can try our best to prepare for it,” she added.
And prepare they did. The scholarships provided Kelsie and Gek Ching with all the opportunities they needed to ease into their future roles.
“As a sociology major, I was trained to think critically and ask critical questions. This has helped me in my current role where I am often tasked with analysing operational processes and policy parameters. The sociological lens I gained in university also influences how I work now as it has made me more conscious of how social systems can impact people,” Gek Ching explains.
Much like Gek Ching, Kelsie believes that her education as an English major is perfectly in line with her beliefs and purpose. “A big part of studying the Humanities is developing empathy for other individuals’ understandings – being curious and engaging with the nuances of what someone has to say through their medium. This is helpful in our attempts to comprehend and meet the needs of specific segments of the population,” she said.
Kelsie currently works with several teams: with the Digital Economy team, she generates and packages Jobs-Skills Insights (JSI); as part of the Business Development team, she produces content for events, conferences, webinars, etc; under the Critical Core Skills team, she drives the promotion of skills.Kelsie is proud of her contribution to the development and launch of SSG’s inaugural Skills Demand for the Future Economy report, which was published in 2021.
For Gek Ching, her position as a manager at the New Operations Division (NOD) means that she is at the forefront of implementing new initiatives to support jobseekers and enterprises. She also manages the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Placement Partners initiative daily, working with employment agencies to facilitate the job matching process between jobseekers and enterprises.
Gek Ching and Kelsie are both complimentary about the openness and the nurturing culture of their organisations. “I appreciate that there is regular dialogue with senior management who is willing to listen and even implement some of our suggestions,” Gek Ching added.
Not only is it a positive working environment to forge a career in, but it also helps solidify their sense of purpose, especially in an evolving economy where the emphasis is shifting from academic qualifications to skills-based credentials.
“Everyone has the potential to achieve success in some area of life; what many need to move forward meaningfully is a sense of self-awareness, a desire to make the full use of one’s competencies, and pure motivation. I hope to continue being a part of this empowerment process, to enable the realisation and recognition of unique potentials, through skills,” Kelsie explained.
Kelsie added that there are training and learning grants available for SSG staff’s personal development. The open culture also allows her the opportunity to put forward her own initiatives; an example being a book club centred around skills-related topics that she started for her division.
A Career that Makes a Real Difference
Gek Ching is always happy to hear of the tangible impact that her programmes have on people and their employment outcomes, and hopes to do her part in empowering Singaporeans to build meaningful careers. She aims to continue to learn as much as she can from SSG and WSG, especially during this volatile post-pandemic period. She adds that the scholarship programme also enables her to rotate between SSG and WSG, as well as other agencies, giving her exposure to different areas of interrelated work and chances to explore broadly and learn new things.
They encourage potential scholars to join WSG and SSG if they are interested in making a difference in the working lives of people around them and helping them build meaningful careers. “SSG and WSG are vibrant and exciting organisations to be in as they are constantly managing change. SSG and WSG are also good places to grow as you get many opportunities to learn and expose yourself to different areas of work. SSG and WSG also walk the talk – they take staff learning and development seriously,” said Gek Ching.
SSG-WSG, the Place to Be
As these scholars show, the opportunity to work under two statutory boards to affect real change is a unique selling point of the SSG-WSG Scholarship.
Ashleigh agreed: “A key feature is the exposure to a broad spectrum of work via cross-agency and cross-divisional projects, as well as secondment opportunities. You may look forward to rotations between front-line and policy positions within SSG-WSG, and even postings to Ministries, Statutory Boards and Trade Associations and Chambers which collaborate closely with SSG and WSG.”
“For someone considering opportunities in the public sector, and a career that is focused on bettering the lives of people around us, I would recommend the SSG-WSG Joint Undergraduate Scholarship as the perfect choice for you,” Esther added.
“With its multitude of activities, and the collaborative synergy of two like-minded agencies, the experiences you will have will never be one-dimensional!”