Many industries have been affected by COVID-19 including tourism, F&B and retail. If yours has been hit, you might have had to job hunt for a new job all of a sudden or take on part-time work to tide you through this period.
There’s the question of whether you should wait out the pandemic and hope that things return to normal, or take courses and upgrade your skills so that you can change industries or become more employable.
If you’ve made the decision to do so, your next question is what skills to acquire.
A recent survey conducted by NTUC LearningHub made some findings about the skills that employers are looking for. More specifically, more than 200 employers in Singapore were quizzed about the skills they considered most valuable in keeping their businesses viable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some takeaways that can guide you in your skills upgrading choices.
Information Communications Technology (ICT) skills are in-demand
The pandemic has shut down business premises and cut off customer flows as people stay home. For many businesses, that has meant turning to the internet in order to earn revenue. The demand for ICT skills has also evolved with new technologies. For instance, 3D printing has had an impact on the design process as well as supply chains.
So, it’s no surprise that 58% of the employers surveyed wanted to equip their workforce with more general tech-related skills.
The top digital skills identified by employers in the survey include digital marketing, project management, data analysis and basic IT support, in that order.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you should quit your job and start training to become a data analyst or developer (unless that’s what you really want to do). It does mean, however, that you should think about the tech skills that would be useful in your desired industry.
As the survey found, the top ICT skills coveted by employers vary according to industry. For instance, in the built environment industry (including construction and architecture), the top skill was project management. Data analysis was the top skill for employers in manufacturing, while employers in the lifestyle industry valued digital marketing the most.
Soft skills give you an edge
The pandemic is throwing lots of businesses into turmoil and requiring them to abruptly change up the way they do things. That could be why 65% employers identified soft skills as a top priority for their workforce, making this the most desired quality in the survey.
What are soft skills anyway?
Under the umbrella of soft skills, the top skill coveted by employers was “adaptability and resilience”, a clear indication that they’re looking for people who can comfortably run with and lead the changes necessitated by COVID-19, such as working from home and carrying out work efficiently.
Other sought after soft skills included teamwork and collaboration, innovation and effective communication.
It’s difficult to define and measure ‘soft skills’, but the survey findings seem to suggest that employers are now less keen to hire employees who are good at following orders but are unable to adapt to sudden changes.
So how do you ‘prove’ that you have good soft skills? Having a broad range of skill sets and work experience that emphasises teamwork and communication might now be a plus, even if not directly required by your job scope.
Any prior experience with remote working and leading digital teams is also going to be an advantage, as employers struggle with managing staff working from home.
If you’re looking for courses that can improve your soft skills, look out for those that improve communication and teamwork skills. If you’re at a more senior level, you’ll want to sharpen your leadership and management abilities.
More jobs to be created in tech sector
Lots of jobs are going to be lost as the pandemic runs its course, but the government is also scrambling to create new ones. So what are these new jobs going to be?
Unsurprisingly, tech is going to play a big role in the new employment market. In fact, the government intends to create 5,500 placements in tech-related jobs over the next two to three years through the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSa) and TeSa Mid-Career Advance Programme, which will place-and-train Singaporeans in tech-related jobs such as digital marketing and software engineering.
So, if you’re a young adult trying to decide on a career direction or a more experienced worker looking for a career switch, tech is one of the more promising sectors to target.
Haven’t yet used your SkillsFuture credits? Here are some courses that you can take with a view to sharpening your skills in areas that are valuable to employers.
Courses in digital marketing
Digital Marketing Masterclass (Udemy) – This A to Z online course offers a broad overview of the building blocks of a digital marketing plan, with a strong focus on social media. Modules include SEO, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.
WSQ Digital Marketing Strategy Certification Course (Equinet Academy) – This course covers digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, digital advertising, social media marketing and analytics.
Advanced Marketing Strategies (Marketing Institute of Singapore) – While not a digital marketing course per se, this course is targeted at marketing professionals who wish to implement more effective marketing strategies.
Courses in project management and data analytics
Certified Agile Project Management (NUS) – This course helps aspiring project managers master the Lean and Agile methodologies.
NICF – New Media & Sentiment Mining (NUS) – Learn how to mine and analyse information from various sources, such as social media, customers and news articles.
Fundamentals of Data Analytics (Republic Polytechnic) – This course introduces the basic concepts you need to understand how data analytics work and teaches you how to apply various analytical techniques.
Courses to develop soft skills
Accelerating Teamwork (NTUC Learning Hub) – This course aims to turn you into a more effective team player and helps you to harness the skill of teamwork to apply it effectively.
Successful Communication & Relationship Management (Aces Learning Hub) – This course teaches you about different problem-solving approaches and behaviours with a view to helping you become a more effective team player.
Facilitating Innovation and Leading Change (SMU) – This course trains participants to identify opportunities to exercise innovativeness and effect change, as well as to successfully create an environment where this can be done.
This is not the best of times but by concentrating on how you can grow and improve, you’re empowering yourself to rise above your circumstances. Here are some tips on career progression that you might find helpful.