Learning For Life 

With upskilling becoming more of a necessity rather than a choice, we speak to various businesses to find out more about the importance of learning throughout our lives.

Picking up new skills is never easy, and it gets even tougher when we feel the constant pressure of upskilling to keep up with the changing times. Constant technological advancements, and the demand for new approaches and ways of thinking in the wake of the pandemic are but some of the reasons why lifelong learning is especially crucial now more than ever. Given the unpredictability of just about every conceivable industry, employers are starting to look out for candidates with not only the necessary hard skills like knowledge of specific softwares, but also important soft skills like creativity and flexibility.

But apart from hiring new candidates, another way that companies can stay relevant is by upgrading the skillsets of their existing employees. To meet this need, companies across various industries have begun rolling out their own SkillsFuture courses for employees and the general public looking to upgrade themselves. Integrated Asian financial house PhillipCapital at Raffles City Tower, photographic house Canon at Galaxis, international lodging owner-operators The Ascott Limited (Ascott), and non-profit training and education centre ELITC at Techplace II are some businesses that have been championing lifelong learning through their personalised courses.

If you’ve been hesitating to sign up for that new course you’ve been eyeing, this is your sign to take the plunge—each of these businesses share some tips and timely reminders for anyone and everyone looking to upgrade themselves.

Have a clear agenda

In this digital age, there is a never-ending stream of online courses and programmes that are available to the general public, many of which are free to sign up for. But the downside is that having too many options can be overwhelming and might even cause us to avoid sieving through this list at all.

Justin Foo, Assistant Manager, Business Development at ELITC suggests paring down the list by first doing some research on the field that you are in, or one that you are interested to step into. “Identify the skills that are needed or lacking as these can value-add to your chosen organisation,” he shares.

After researching and selecting a programme to take up, the Learning & Development (Human Capital) team at PhillipCapital recommends keeping an open mind and going into each course with a game plan. They also share a quote by Benjamin Franklin that the financial house stands by—“an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”, which is applicable to people of all ages as the value of knowledge is infinite. “For anyone looking to upgrade, that’s already a good step. It’s a growth mindset,” they say.


Build a strong foundation, then go beyond it

When switching careers, it’s important to build a stable foundation for yourself, and picking up relevant hard skills is the first step. Ascott has a specialised training centre—the Ascott Centre for Excellence (ACE)—that caters to the hospitality industry, in particular the hotel and accommodation service sector. “For staff who are already working in Ascott or the hospitality industry, our courses are here to upskill them in their current roles or help them take on new roles for their career development.  For those who are keen to join the industry, our certificate programme gives them a good foundation to be trained and placed,” the Ascott team shares. ACE runs a wide variety of programmes, and topics range from hotel operations to customer service and on-the-job training. 

Another hard skills-based course held within a specialised training centre is ELITC’s introductory course to immersive technology, Apply Mixed Reality in the Workplace, where participants get to learn from technology leaders and try their hand at using different AR and VR tools and platforms, such as the Oculus Quest, Hololens 2, and Realwear.

ELITC’s workshop introduced participants to various AR/VR tools and their applications in business.

Of course, companies don’t necessarily need to have physical training centres to run their own courses. Canon’s Basic Photography course taught by veteran photographers is an example of a hard skills-based course that is not run within a training centre. 

All of these courses are quite basic, which makes them perfect for beginners, or good refreshers for more experienced individuals. And like the Ascott team mentioned, they could very well be the starting point to building a career in a whole new industry.

Change is the only constant

In this ever-changing world, learning to adapt and keep up is something that all of us have to get used to. Like the Learning & Development (Human Capital) team at PhillipCapital says, “learning agility is key in helping us stay relevant through evolving demands of the workplace.” It might sound cutthroat, but many companies are helping to ease this process for employees by supporting them in their upskilling ventures.

For instance, PhillipCapital offers company-sponsored training opportunities including short courses, educational and professional development programmes to their employees. “Our staff is our greatest asset,”  says the team.

In a similar vein, Canon offers complimentary product-training courses to anyone who purchases a Canon camera. Davina, Business Development Executive at Canon shares that these courses are personalised based on the camera model that each individual has purchased, and complements their Basic Photography course, which customers can later sign up for.

Davina Koh shares that one of their previous course graduates kick-started his career through their Basic Photography course, and is now working as a content creator for the photography house.

Of course, starting afresh in a new industry is always scary, but Justin recommends not worrying too much about lacking qualifications, as this can easily be made up for with additional training, and by signing up for more courses, be it online or in person.

“Do not be afraid to take on new challenges and explore new areas,” the Ascott team says. Similarly, Davina’s advice is to “go beyond your comfort zone.” She adds that “nothing beats attending an actual ‘live’ programme where you get to interact with like-minded photographers and get advice and guidance from experienced instructors.”

Participants of Canon's Product Training workshop by Mr Lance Leong held at Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Professional development programmes for PhilipCapital employees
Wilfred Yeong, lyf Guard and Caleb Kan, Senior lyf Guard (2nd and 3rd from left, respectively) went through Ascott’s WSQ Diploma in Hotel and Accommodation Services course to learn more about the operational aspects of the hospitality

Healthy mind, healthy life

Apart from technical courses, soft-skills-based courses are equally important and should not be overlooked. In a course testimonial shared by PhillipCapital, participants of their two-day Emotional Intelligence at the Workplace programme felt that the course allowed them to look inwards and improve upon areas that they were lacking in, which ended up benefitting them both at work and in their daily lives outside of work.

Justin adds that the mere process of learning consistently is also beneficial to our mental health. “A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body, and learning something new keeps the brain developing, even as we age,” he shares.

Another aspect of attending courses that we tend to overlook is the community that can be forged just by learning and growing alongside each other. Senior lyf Guard Caleb Kan and lyf Guard Wilfred Yeong at lyf one-north Singapore are graduates of ACE’s WorkForce Skills Qualification Diploma in Hotel and Accommodation Services course, and the pair share how they have bonded greatly with their fellow course mates.

“With the hospitality industry being a small, tight-knit one, these connections are ones that we hold dear and have given us more friends in this industry. Even after more than a year, we are still in contact with some of our course mates as we constantly exchange notes to navigate this tricky situation that we are in because of the pandemic,” they say.

With all that being said, learning and upskilling constantly might not be that intimidating after all. But if you need a little more help with this process, we welcome you to join the community at Catapult, a purpose-built executive learning centre in Rochester Commons that will open to the broader learning community in Q2 2022. You can already attend some of Catapult’s virtual or hybrid format workshops, and when it officially opens, the centre aims to create the ideal learning space to equip executives with future-ready skills and leadership agility in a regional and global context.

Catapult’s curriculum focuses on leadership, innovation, and human energy for peak performance, and courses are immersive and hands-on, developed in partnership with the best knowledge providers in the industry. Learning needs are also proactively matched to Catapult’s extensive network of training partners, and all courses can be conducted using the centre’s advanced learning facilities. To find out more about this dynamic community, visit the Rochester Commons website.


For more information on the courses from the businesses mentioned above, visit their respective websites: Canon, PhillipCapital, Ascott, and ELITC.


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