Keynote Address at Career Practitioners Conference 2018
Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre
Ms Wong Sing Chee
President, People & Career Development Association
Colleagues and Friends
Friends and colleagues
Career practitioner: a growing profession in Singapore
- It has been said that changing jobs is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. In most cases where the job change was due to pull factors to seek out greener pastures, the stress has more to do with the desire to adapt quickly to the new environment and to do better than in the previous job. Some people call it positive stress i.e. the kind that spurs progress.
- However, in some cases, the circumstances leading to a job change can add further tension. For example, a person could have been laid off after many years in a job, company or industry. There could also have been push factors that led a person to feel they had no choice but to move. Jobseekers in such situations tend to face much more of an emotional roller-coaster. It is not at all easy for them.
- In times of stress, we often rely on the support of family and friends. But when it comes to job or career changes, friends and families may not have all the answers. For example, jobseekers often wonder which new role they will be suited for? Or which occupations and industries are hiring? They want to know if their skills are still relevant and if not, what should they do about it. They will also benefit from knowing where to get help for a successful transition.
- This is where career practitioners and advisors come in.
- As recently as a decade ago, this was quite a new profession in Singapore. Today, however, we have built up a sizeable community of career practitioners.
- About 150 career coaches from WSG’s Careers Connect and NTUC’s e2i’ centres serving job seekers across the island.
- More than 90 Education and Career guidance (ECG) counsellors who guide students in secondary schools, junior colleges and post-secondary educational institutions to make considered decisions on their choices about the future, and find success in their future careers based on their strengths and interests.
- We can now also draw on a significant pool of career advisors among HR practitioners, allied educators, social service officers and industry mentors, who provide HR/career advisory to workers at their respective workplaces.
A beacon of light to jobseekers
- To get an insight into the work of our career practitioners, allow me to share the story of Mr Tan who was 59 years old when he first met Jason, Lead Career Coach at WSG’s Careers Connect at Our Tampines Hub.
- At that time, Mr Tan had been unemployed for almost a year. He felt dejected and helpless. Although anxious to help Mr Tan get back to work, Jason assessed that Mr Tan first needed to regain a positive frame of mind. He would otherwise find it hard to face interviewers, or adapt to a new job.
- It took a while to build the foundation, but Mr Tan eventually became ready to work with Jason to review his career options and pick up new methods of job search.
- With Jason’s encouragement and support, Mr Tan attended Adapt and Grow career previews and career fairs and the Career Activator. This was in addition to the many job interviews that came along the way.
- Despite many disappointments, neither Mr Tan nor Jason give up on each other. Both were overjoyed when Mr Tan successfully found a job.
- The journey of Mr Tan is typical of thousands of jobseekers who were placed under the Adapt and Grow programme last year. Of the 25,000 helped, about 10,000 needed an extra boost from Professional Conversion, Career Support, Place and Train or other programmes.
- Earlier this year, I asked to meet some of the career coaches at WSG and e2i. Each shared with me the challenges they faced, and there are many, such as jobseekers who are understandably frustrated and may vent their anger at the coaches.
- Yet, our career coaches remain undeterred. They continue to be enthusiastic and focused on helping jobseekers get back to work. One coach told me what keeps her going is a thank you card she received calling her “a beacon of light in a stormy sea.” Mr Tan probably felt the same way about Jason too.
- The passion of our career coaches is moving. That is why I asked them to nominate the jobseekers and employers who most inspired them for a May Day reunion. So many of the jobseekers turned up with their families – husbands, wives, parents, children – to thank the coaches for giving them hope when they were down and out. There was also a lot of laughter and some tears. Without a doubt, our career practitioners are making an impact in the lives of jobseekers and their families.
Building our career professionals community
- As our economy restructures and our workforce adapts, the role of career professionals becomes more important. We must recognise their critical place in helping people successfully transit from one occupation to another, in one industry to the next. The better we can do this, the more likely our people can benefit from transformation.
- Professionalising and standardising practices in the career community will be key. We must build on the empathy and passion of our career professionals, invest in developing their capabilities, and attract more talents to join the community.
- As part of this effort, I am pleased to launch the Workforce Singapore (WSG) Career Development Framework (CDF).
- It provides a roadmap for career professionals to develop their competencies in both breadth and depth, and be recognised for them.
- To his client, it is the promise of quality coaching from a professional who upholds high standards, ethics and ethos.
- The framework will be introduced over the next two years. There are four levels of certification career professionals can work towards, and programmes to help them make the grade. The framework also covers continuing professional development, so career professionals can themselves “walk the talk” when guiding their clients to adapt to an evolving job landscape.
- The launch of the CDF marks an exciting milestone for the career professionals community. I am confident career professionals will respond positively to the framework.
- I would like to take the opportunity of this conference to thank each and every career advisor and practitioner present today for the important and meaningful work that you are doing.
- Remember that for many jobseekers, you are their “beacon of light in a stormy sea”. You need to be strong for your clients to lean on. You need to be clear-headed to point them in the right direction. But most of all, your faith must shine through to inspire them towards success.
- I wish you all a fruitful day ahead.