SINGAPORE: Finance professionals looking for job matching, career development and training advice can now turn to a newly established one-stop centre for help.
Housed within the expanded premises of the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) in Shenton Way, the IBF Careers Connect was launched on Wednesday (Aug 1) with Education Minister Ong Ye Kung as the guest of honour.
It touts a range of services aimed at helping finance workers cope with disruptive changes in the industry.
These include one-on-one sessions with career advisors who will help individuals, be it fresh graduates or mid-career professionals, to identify their work interests and skills before mapping out further training needs and potential new jobs.
For a start, the centre, located at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) building, will have three full-time career coaches.
Job matching and placement services will also be available to link up jobseekers with appropriate roles within the financial sector, or in other industries as IBF partners agencies such as Workforce Singapore (WSG).
Professionals from other sectors who have matching skills can also be placed in the financial sector.
The new centre will also support the re-skilling and talent development efforts of financial institutions here.
Apart from help in designing and implementing professional conversion programmes (PCPs), financial institutions can tap on the centre for their hiring needs.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Ong, who is also a MAS board member, said while career centres are not a new concept, the IBF Careers Connect will be the first to focus on the financial industry and is conveniently located within the Central Business District (CBD).
“It will bring its expertise in skills development and strong industry connections to help individuals affected by change,” he said.
While embracing technology can help to raise the country’s competitiveness and workforce capabilities, as well as create more jobs, innovation remains a doubled-edged sword, said Mr Ong.
“If the first phase (of embracing technology) is not handled well, sentiments of workers will turn against us,” he added. “This first wave is the most critical because it directly affects people’s jobs and livelihoods.”
Echoing that, IBF chairman and MAS managing director Ravi Menon said as technology transforms the financial industry, the local workforce will need to keep up. This comes amid expectations for finance workers to see higher frequency of job changes moving ahead.
“Although the financial sector is creating jobs on a net basis, there is a tremendous amount of churn and financial industry professionals are moving into and out of jobs in large numbers, responding to changes in job roles and business models,” Mr Menon said.
This means that the industry will need to look at skills development, alternative career pathways and job placements in an “integrated manner” to navigate changes successfully, he added.
IBF’s chief executive Ng Nam Sin said the new career centre will boost ongoing efforts to equip workers with the right skills by raising the awareness of training opportunities – an area where nearly 80 per cent of finance professionals surveyed by IBF in June said they were unclear of.
The same survey done with about 1,000 respondents also showed that while about half believe in the importance of acquiring new skills, 41 per cent said they do not feel the urgency to do so.
This is slightly worrisome, Mr Ng told reporters at a briefing ahead of the launch.
“It took the personal computer 10 years to reach the mass market and it took the Internet 4 years to reach 50 million users. We think digital technology is going to be more viral and it will hit how we work and how we live much faster,” he said.
“So there’s an urgency for us to reskill and retrain ourselves.”
“IF THE CHANGES NEED TO COME, WE HAVE TO ACCEPT”
As part of the Government’s transformation roadmap for the financial industry, PCPs, aimed at reskilling workers affected by changes in their job roles, have been launched at several banks here.
Citibank, which aims to re-skill 2,000 employees over the next three years, rolled out its PCP for about 400 employees two months ago. Over the next 12 months, these workers in front office and operations roles will undergo training in areas like design thinking, automation and cybersecurity.
In March, the bank also got some 1,600 employees to undergo IBF-accredited training in similar areas.
Over at UOB, digital training for its 900 customer-facing employees began last November.
Ms Janet Young, UOB’s head of group channels and digitalisation, said the bank will continue to work with IBF as it expands its PCP to beef up the digital skills of its employees.
“With banks preparing their people for the roles of the future, IBF Career Connect will play an important role in helping to bolster the industry’s training efforts,” she added.
Being the first bank to launch its PCP last October, DBS said nearly two-thirds of its branch tellers have undergone training. The rest will do so within the next 12 months.
One of them is Ms Tricia Li, who has been with the bank for about 24 years after joining POSB as a bank teller in 1994.
The assistant service manager said she is no longer “just hiding behind the counter” dealing with specialised duties, such as account openings. Instead, she now has a broadened job scope that includes digital or advisory roles, such as guiding elderly customers to use the new digital service machines.
The usage of digital tools is also time-saving, while eliminating excessive paperwork and possibilities of errors, Ms Li added.
When asked if she felt worried about the pace of technological disruptions and how these have already rendered her previous job scopes redundant, the 43-year-old said: “No doubt there were some customers who said ‘Oh you’re going to be replaced by these machines’ but I told them no worries.”
“We have to be positive. If the changes need to come, we have to accept.”