Getting schooled for the digital age

Getting schooled for the digital age

The job market is changing. Here is why it pays to go back to school to and widen your skillsets.

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Disruption is a near certainty in the digital economy; regularly updating knowledge and skills  helps workers stay relevant as economic needs evolve. Photos: Shutterstock

With digital technologies rapidly changing the way we live and work today, the need to upgrade your knowledge and acquire new skills is becoming more important to stay relevant in today’s fast-changing job market.

A World Economic Forum report in 2016 estimated that over 5 million jobs will be lost across the world due to tech disruptions in the labour market between 2015 and 2020.

While fears over robots or artificial intelligence taking over our jobs may not be applicable to all industries, one thing is certain: Most jobs will be experience some form of technological disruption.

The good news though, is that workers who adapt and widen their skillsets stand to learn – and gain – plenty as their job roles evolve.

In Singapore, a growing number of employees including PMETs (professionals, managers, executives and technicians) are losing their jobs due to new technological developments. This group made up the bulk of retrenched workers in the first three months of 2019, and will continue to bear the brunt of technological disruption, say experts.

Recognising the importance and the need for employees to upgrade their skills to stay relevant, the Government rolled out the SkillsFuture initiative in 2014 to help Singaporeans do just that. The scheme subsidises the costs of a wide range of courses – from digital to languages – to encourage Singaporeans to pick up new skills that can help their careers and meet evolving economic needs.

Apart from SkillsFuture programmes, private educational institutions also offer a host of courses from one-day introductory courses to full-fledged degree and diploma programmes as well as graduate programmes.

Here are some key reasons why going back to school could help you ride the great wave of technological change:


You may have been the top dog at your company for many years, but your past performance no longer guarantees you a seat at the table in an ever-evolving workplace. Even professionals like accountants and lawyers have to ensure they are adding value to their organisations as digital solutions are employed to take over some of their tasks.

Thankfully, retraining seems to be helping more workers stay employed. In his May Day Message this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore's efforts to retrain workers and prepare them to handle new jobs have helped to keep 2018’s retrenchment rate at its lowest in over 10 years.

Without this focus on training and upgrading, employers might have taken "the easy way out" by retrenching old workers and replacing them with new graduates, PM Lee said.


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Keeping abreast of economic and technological developments and staying relevant can help workers transcend disruption.

By acquiring new and relevant skills, you enhance your employability and make yourself more attractive to organisations in your industry. So if your job becomes obsolete or if you decide to make a career switch, you give yourself a higher chance of being re-employed.

In the financial services sector for instance, it is no longer enough to be proficient in banking products or risk assessment.

With technology disrupting the industry, an understanding of how data is being used to better engage customers and deliver financial services is one way to set yourself apart from your peers. This may require you to attend courses in areas such as fintech and data analytics.

For instance, NUS Business School’s Leading With Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning is a five-day programme that encourages participants to develop analytics capabilities to drive change within their organisations. It costs S$6,409.

More in-depth courses like the Singapore University of Social Sciences’ Graduate Diploma in Financial Technology cost S$14,124.


Picking up new expertise will help open doors to opportunities in other emerging industries. Singaporeans are already taking advantage of skills upgrading to embark on second careers. For instance, around 700 professionals made a mid-career move into Singapore’s healthcare sector in 2016.

To help encourage this trend, the Government rolled out an initiative to help Singaporeans find jobs in the five key growth industries of healthcare, infocomm and media, wholesale trade, professional services and financial services. Workforce Singapore initiatives such as the Professional Conversion Programme (PCP), help workers over the age of 40 move into these expanding sectors.

The iron rice bowl may be a thing of the past, but finding the funds to further your studies and continuously widen or deepen your skillsets could pay off in the long run. Costs vary widely depending on the duration and complexity of the courses, and whether these are eligible for subsidies. A personal loan could be one option to help fund your journey to furthering your studies.

Whether you decide to enroll in a programme that offers more in-depth knowledge or several short-term courses that let you develop a wider range of skillsets, acquiring the skills needed by employers today and making continuous learning a life-long affair can help you ride the digital wave of disruption and stay employed.

Taking a personal loan should never be about quick, easy cash, but it may be a smart choice if it helps you make your long-term goals a reality without compromising on your existing lifestyle.

Whether you need extra funds to take up private studies or top up the difference for a SkillsFuture course, a personal loan to further your education could be one way to help you achieve your ambitions. While taking a personal loan should never be about quick, easy cash, it may be a smart choice if it helps you make your long-term goals a reality without compromising on your current lifestyle.

With HSBC Personal Loans, get the extra cash you need to achieve what matters most to you. Enjoy low interest rates, one-minute approval in-principle and your choice of fixed or flexible repayment options.

Find out how you can fund your dreams with HSBC Personal Loans.