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Singapore Country Information

Singapore Representative:
Hector Lin
Secretary-General
People & Career Development Association (PCDA)

Singapore
Singapore@AsiaPacificCDA.org


November 2021 Singapore Report

Learning Programmes Organised by PCDA

  1. [NEW] Master class on “The Talent Revolution” by Lisa Taylor. Introduction session on 30 Sept’21, actual course dates: 21, 22, 28 & 29 Oct’21.

  2. [NEW DATES] [In the Plans] Conversation Matters webinar by Rich Feller, 1st Quarter of 2022.

  3. [In the Plans] Group Career Counselling Masterclass (onsite) by Richard Pyle, mid-Feb’22.

Community Development

  1. PCDA Member Year-end Event in Dec’21.

  2. PCDA Membership Recruitment Drive in 2022.

[Singapore] 

  1. Retirement age still relevant in protecting older workers against ‘less progressive’ employers: Tan See Leng https://bit.ly/31nk5to
  2. More can be done to train older workers with raising of retirement and re-employment age https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/more-can-be-done-to-train-older-workers-with-raising-of-retirement-and-re
  3. [MOM] Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant and Part-time Re-employment Grant https://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/schemes-for-employers-and-employees/senior-worker-early-adopter-grant-and-part-time-re-employment-grant

August 2021 Singapore Report

Learning Programmes Organised by PCDA

  1. [NEW] 2nd run of the “Career Construction Masterclass - Enhanced” by Prof Kevin Glavin. Course dates: 13, 20 & 27 Sept’21.
  2. [NEW DATES] Master class on “The Talent Revolution” by Lisa Taylor. Introduction session on 30 Sept’21, actual course dates: 21, 22, 28 & 29 Oct’21.
  3. [In the Plans] Conversation Matters webinar by Rich Feller.
  4. [In the Plans] Webinar by former Ministry of Manpower (MOM) director, Andrew Fung. Webinar likely in August’21.

Community Development

  1. PCDA Member Check-In-Session on 13 Aug’21.
  2. PCDA Exco Member recruitment drive 2021.

[Singapore] MOM to Setup Committee to Examine if Laws Against Workplace Discrimination Should Be Introduced

Singapore MOM will set up tripartite committee to look into how best to deal with workplace discrimination.
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/mom-committee-laws-against-workplace-discrimination-tan-see-leng-2063591

May 2021 Country Report

Learning Program Organized by PCDA

  1. Lunchtime webinar on "Critical Ingredients of Career Intervention” by Michael Healy
  2. [In the plans] Talent Revolutionaries Masterclass by Lisa Taylor in September’21.

Community Development

  1. Exploring partnership with Workforce Singapore (WSG) to introduce career development practices to the workplace.
  2. Exploring partnership with private enterprises to weave in career development practices to their business
  3. Exploring collaboration with Public Service Division (PSD) to help build capability for the career coaches (in-house). It is noted that these in house coaches service all the civil servants in the public sector
  4. Invitation to participate in the annual SkillsFuture Month which is a national campaign to promote lifelong learning. It is an opportunity to incorporate career development concepts in the national movement.

National Programs to Provide Career Services for Job Seekers

  • SkillsFuture Month, 2 Jul to 15 Aug 2021.

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February 2021 Singapore Report

Learning Programmes Organised by PCDA

  1. Master class on “Career Construction Interview” by Prof Kevin Glavin
  2. Master class “Career SUPERDRIVE” by My Working Title

Community Development

  1. Revision of PCDA membership
    • S$40 for 1-year subscription
    • S$70 for 2-year subscription

Human Capital Support for Enterprises

In Dec 2020, Singapore government launched a new grant to help companies conduct Job Re-design.

Abstract: Developed by Workforce Singapore (WSG) as part of the enhancement to the existing Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG), the Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR) encourages enterprises to work with pre-approved Job Redesign (JR) consultants to redesign work processes, tasks and responsibilities. JR can support business transformation, help make jobs more productive and attractive for workers, and benefit enterprises by allowing them to hire and retain good workers to support the business.

For more information, visit: Support for Job Redesign under Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG-JR) (wsg.gov.sg)

National programs to provide career services for job seekers

  1. Job seekers can visit any of the eight satellite career centres in the heartland for career matching services and advice.
  2. Called the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Centres, the purpose is to make career services highly accessible to residents.
  3. Job seekers can go to these satellite centres to meet a Workforce Singapore career ambassador who will provide career advice on the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package.
  4. Close to 100,000 opportunities - jobs, traineeships and skills training places - will be generated by the Government under the package overseen by the new National Jobs Council.
  5. Job seekers who require more in-depth and tailored career coaching services will be referred by the career ambassador to their nearest career centre for follow-ups.
  6. There are five career centres islandwide, such as Workforce Singapore's Career Connect and the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute.
  7. Source: Eight satellite career centres to help job seekers from July, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

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July 2020 Singapore Report

Partnership with local government

  • Local Government is offering to form a strategic partnership with PCDA to provide 1 to 2 years of monetary support for our local career development association (PCDA) to organise events for the community
  • Due to Covid, nature of engagement and price have to be adapted and go through re-think

ACPDA Conference 2021

  • Meeting Marilyn together with Sing Chee to discuss and make preparations
  • Formed working committee in Singapore to prepare for conference
  • Mapping out work breakdown structure
  • Performing budgeting and aiming to secure better venue and food options

National Career Development Facilitation Conference 2020

  • Workforce Singapore, a government agency in Singapore, is planning to organise a major conference in 2020.
  • PCDA is working with the agency to influence on the conference theme, design and execution.
  • The last conference was organised in 2018, delivered jointly with PCDA. Minister of Manpower graced the event as GOH.
  • Currently in the process of organising events as prelude to engage enterprises and employed individuals to dovetail to this conference.

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Mobile Clinics

Prepared by Hector Lin


  • Singapore government recently launched a new initiative to extend availability of career advisory and coaching services further to more job-seeking Singaporeans. The initiative is called Careers Connect On-the-Go (CCOTG).

  • Reaching out into the heartlands to serve local active jobseekers, CCOTG will travel around the city to offer mobile career matching services through personalised career coaching by certified career coaches.

  • Besides getting one-to-one career coaching, jobseekers will be able to pick up early career planning and lifelong career management skills through onsite career advisory, which will include information on industries, Adapt and Grow programmes and available job opportunities. Additionally, they can attend career preparation workshops to brush up their job search skills. 

  • PCDA is in discussion with the agency in charge to see how to support the initiative in terms of recruiting, training and deploying of coaches.

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When Career Theories Meet Human-Centered Design

by Ella Choi and Jeremiah Wong

Singapore is a tiny metropolitan city well-known for topping the charts in many indicators such as health, education, infrastructure and economic competitiveness. Amidst a commendable 2.1% unemployment rate, the average Singaporean puts in about 45 hours a week at work to support the nation's growth. Underlying this however, is a growing concern that nearly half (45%) of the Singaporeans in employment face burn-out, dissatisfaction and low engagement levels (Job Street, 2017). With an economy undergoing rapid change, the need for career advising has never been greater.

Against this backdrop, Workforce Singapore redesigned its career centers in 2017 to build a service model based on sound career development theories, meshed with a needs-based approach to ensure that services are effective and relevant to the jobseekers. Under the redesigned "Careers Connect", its personalized career services, branded as the CARE360 package, is undergirded by five principles:

  1. A human-centered design approach which focuses on research into the jobseeker's psychological state and career readiness; supported with ideation and prototyping techniques (Stickdorn, Schneider, Andrews, & Lawrence, 2011)
  2. An emphasis on job-fit through well-informed career decision-making, beginning with a good understanding of (a) one's self and (b) the environment (Parsons, 1909; Walsh & Holland, 1992)
  3. A triaged service model that recommends the right level of support and programmatic interventions to the jobseeker, depending on their readiness level (Sampson, 2017)
  4. Alignment of interventions to market realities in the local context, including understanding of the technological and cultural shifts in the way hiring is conducted
  5. The digitalization of services through a blended, hi-tech and hi-touch approach, using interactive content and technology coupled with personalized human interventions to support jobseekers and extend the reach of services

Career Catalyst (CARE360)
Structured Career Coaching to achieve job search goals

For unemployed professionals who have been job hunting for months, job search can be frustrating, complex and seemingly futile.

Career Catalyst, a structured and modular, career coaching program, breaks down the job search process into 4 actionable steps. Adapted from the CASVE cycle (Sampson, Reardon, Peterson, Lenz, 2004), jobseekers are guided to make wise career decisions through 4 stages:

  1. Know Yourself: Gain awareness into one's Values, Interests, Personality and Skills (VIPS), which is founded on Holland's six personality types, Jung's Myer Briggs personality models, and Knowdell's Career Values and Motivated Skills. With VIPS, the individual's life narrative is strengthened, and through coaching and career construction, is transformed into a coherent career story.
  2. Explore Options: Gather insights into job opportunities through conducting in-depth job and occupational research, while leveraging on the national skills frameworks which codify the essential skills and competencies for each job.
  3. Develop Strategies: Translate one's VIPS and career story into a differentiated personal brand, and personified through one's résumé, interview and networking interactions.
  4. Take Action: Implement one's job search action plan through targeted online job applications and leveraging one's networks.

Career Roadmap to guide jobseekers through the 4 stage process

Career Activator (CARE360)
Familiarizing with the work environment to make an informed decision


Jobseekers touring the work environment at a healthcare company
While many blue-collared workers can land a job fairly quickly in Singapore, several struggle to stay in a job due to a weak understanding of the job role and work conditions.

Career Activator, which gathers interested jobseekers on a learning journey to a hiring company's workplace, enables them to learn more about the job tasks, work environment and skills required to make informed career decisions. This form of career decision-making is hinged on the Trait and Factor theory (Parsons, 1909) and Person Environment Congruence (Walsh & Holland, 1992), which requires a good understanding of self and an understanding of the occupation to identify a good job fit.

Career Recharger (CARE360)
Career Counseling to stay positive in the face of setbacks

Across the globe, job loss can severely impact an individual's financial status, social and family relationships, and even one's personal identity. Singapore is no exception. In a fast-paced society that prides itself on achievements and status, prolonged unemployment can lead to stress, anxiety and even depression.

"After losing my job, I really felt like I was nothing... It was emotionally draining, sending out 10 job applications a day and not hearing back from anyone… With a wife and 2 children to support, I was slowly burning through my savings"-- Thoughts frequently shared from unemployed Singaporeans in their 40s - 50s.

Career Recharger, a 1-to-1 Career Counseling Program, equips jobseekers with a positive mindset and the needed self-efficacy to focus on their job search efforts. With roots in Person-Centered Therapy (Rogers, 2012) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Beck, 2011), Career Recharger looks holistically into the client's background, family's genogram and career needs, and seeks to achieve balance and equilibrium, in order to regain ownership of the client's life again. The program works through the following 4 stages:

  1. Know the stressors: The counselor establishes rapport with the client through unconditional positive regard, guiding the client to draw out and reflect on their lifeline, and understand what triggers one's emotions and behaviors.
  2. Identify coping strategies: Recognize unhelpful patterns of thinking, and identify ways to reframe one's negative thoughts.
  3. Craft an action plan: Nudge the client to write down and commit to the 'next steps' of their job search, through crafting a personalized action plan that outlines both short and long-term goals.
  4. Celebrate the progress: Guide clients to see the job search process as a series of progressive milestones, and celebrate the tiny successes that they have clocked to keep spirits high and motivated.

Career Energiser (CARE360)
Differentiate from the competition using job search techniques

With job openings today receiving 50 - 1,000 applications, the challenge for many jobseekers is in articulating what makes them different from other candidates, so that they stand out.

Career Energiser brings the contents and tips from regular 1-to-1 career coaching sessions to group facilitated workshops. These job search workshops are characterized by the following:

  1. Hands-on learning: Through on-the-spot résumé crafting, case studies, interview role-playing and mock networking sessions, jobseekers take away practical learning and tangible outcomes from the workshop.
  2. Group facilitation: Small class sizes (8-10 people) to encourage peer sharing of experiences, with active involvement of the group in contributing to learning points.
  3. Career technology: Jobseekers are exposed to new hiring tools such as Applicant Tracking Systems, video and chatbot interviews and how to overcome them. They also learn to adopt career tools as an enabler, such as resume scoring tools and AI-based job recommenders.

Jobseekers role-playing on the commonly asked interview questions

Career 360 (CARE360)
Networking to access hidden jobs

The career interventions above relate to preparing individuals with self-efficacy and job search techniques to be employable and marketable. However, employability without access to opportunities would be a futile effort. Such an impact is most felt by many jobseekers who face multiple rejections from employers, frustrated by the "black hole" of the online job application process. This is where networking comes in, forming the overall link between employability and job placement.

Most employers prefer to hire through direct referrals and networks, where an estimated 70-80% of the jobs are found through an individual's own network. Singapore is no exception. Through human-centered design and rapid ideation, Career 360 was designed to bridge this gap by gathering a group of like-minded jobseekers,


Jobseekers building their confidence during a speed networking session with employers
employers and industry experts from the same industry to spark connections. The program comprises 3 parts:
  1. Workshop on networking and elevator pitch skills to allow jobseekers to familiarize with the fundamentals of establishing professional career relationships.
  2. Industry expert sharing on hiring insights and technological trends in the industry to offer greater insights into the job role and provide a reality check for jobseekers.
  3. Speed networking session to encourage employers to go beyond the résumé and learn more about the candidates: who they are and what they believe in.

Established career theories, contextualized to the Singapore context and needs of the jobseeker, underpin our service design and delivery. As these continue to evolve, Careers Connect has charted the vision of setting the national standard for career services, so as to best meet the needs of our citizens.

Careers Connect: connecting career aspirations of individuals with the hiring needs of employers.

Reference List

Beck, J. S. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond. Guilford press.

Low, Y.J (2018, Jan 22). Survey finds 45% of S'poreans unhappy at work in 2019. Today online. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/survey-finds-45-cent-singaporeans-unhappy-work-slight-improvement-last-year

Ng, J.Y. (2016, Apr 20). Older PMETs hardest hit as layoffs increase across sectors. Today online. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/job-search-longer-retrenched-workers-who-are-older-or-have-higher-educational

Rogers, C. (2012). Client Centred Therapy (New Ed). Hachette UK.

Sampson Jr, J. P., Lenz, J. G., Reardon, R. C., & Peterson, G. W. (1999). A cognitive information processing approach to employment problem solving and decision making. The Career Development Quarterly, 48(1), 3-18.

Sampson, J. P., Reardon, R. C., Peterson, G. W., & Lenz, J. G. (2004). Career counseling and services: A cognitive information processing approach. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks/Cole.

Sampson Jr, J. P., Peterson, G. W., Reardon, R. C., & Lenz, J. G. (2000). Using readiness assessment to improve career services: A cognitive information?processing approach. The Career Development Quarterly, 49(2), 146-174.

Stickdorn, M., Schneider, J., Andrews, K., & Lawrence, A. (2011). This is service design thinking: Basics, tools, cases (Vol. 1). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Tang, L. (2018, Dec 24). The Big Read: Breaking Singapore's workaholic culture. Today Online. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/breaking-singapore-workaholic-culture-long-working-hours-always--11058104

Walsh, B. W., & Holland, J. L. (1992). A theory of personality types and work environments.

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Ella Choi is a Career Development Facilitator from Singapore, and has been designing career services and policies for the past 3 years. She believes in innovation through intentional design, and hopes to reorganize the job search process from one that is stressful, frustrating and complicated to one that is meaningful, understood, and easily navigable by the jobseeker. You can reach her at ella_choi@wsg.gov.sg.

Jeremiah Wong is an NCDA Certified Career Services Provider (CCSP) and Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) from Singapore. He has been career coaching and building capabilities for career practitioners for the last 8 years. His passion is in raising the capabilities of career practitioners in Workforce Singapore, to enable more actualized individuals to land fulfilling careers. You can reach him at jeremiah_wong@wsg.gov.sg.

Recognizing APCDA's Longest Lifetime Member — Han Kok Kwang by Dr Lisa Raufman

Han Kok Kwang has been a Career Professional for more than 29 years, playing diverse roles as senior manager of a global corporation, international MBA lecturer and entrepreneur. He is a National award winning professional, Bestselling author and Founder of the boutique career development training business, Personal Mastery Resources.

What made you decide to become a lifetime APCDA member?
"Because I believed that the 21st Century is the Century of Asia Pacific, with enormous potential for career development and career practitioners. And APCDA is well positioned to ride on the wave. It's also super cool to be the 1st, to go where no one has. That was why I signed up to be the 1st Legacy Partner Lifetime Member of APCDA way back in 2014."

Guess he thrives on being the first:

  • 1st Certified Master of Career Services (NCDA, USA) in Asia
  • 1st International NCDA (US) Master Trainer in Asia
  • 1st Certified Professional Retirement Coach (USA) in Asia
  • 1st Legacy Partner Lifetime Member, Asia Pacific Career Development Association
  • 1st batch of Accredited Senior Human Resource Professionals (SHRP) in Singapore
  • 1st Certified Personal Branding Strategist (REACH, USA) in Asia
  • 1st Certified Career Developer for people with barriers (USA) in Asia

Han is the youngest winner of the National Human Resource Professional of the Year Award, a pioneer recipient of the Inaugural National Lifelong Learner Awards and a winner in the Inaugural MIS Best Personal Brand Awards (Entrepreneur).

APCDA Conference Presentations:

  • Coming at the 2019 Conference:
    • Tuesday May 21, with Constance Pritchard: Facilitating Career Development Training – Day-Long Professional Development Institute (PDI) for the GCDF and/or CCSP Credential
    • Panel speaker on Careers 4.0
  • Skills for the Gig Economy by Han Kok Kwang and Roberta Neault (2018)
  • Trends in Asia by Sungsik Ahn, Han Kok Kwang, Ivy Liao, and Cheri Butler (2016)
  • Million Dollar Mission: Exploring Career Success with Youth by Han Kok Kwang (2016)

Education - degrees, certificates and where you studied

Han does not have a Bachelors' degree but earned an MBA (Master of Business Administration with Distinction) from the University of Hull (UK) and a PhD accredited by Varna Free University (Bulgaria). He has 16 other certifications, ranging from assessment tool certification to marketing, training & management consulting. He is truly a model of a life-long learner!

Professional influences

Han is grateful for the many mentors that he met in his career journey. Special mention must be made to Ms Ellen Weaver Paquette, who showed him the way to become a Global Career Practitioner.

Publications

Han is a firm believer in performance and results, as reflected in his provocative bestselling books on career management below. He also donated more than $80,000 to Charitable Organizations through his book sales to help the disadvantaged in Society.

  • So What If You Don't Have A Degree? (National Bestseller)
  • Beyond Buzzwords: Expanding Mind-sets, Exploding Returns
  • No Job? No Problem! (Bestseller)
  • So What If You Are Not The CEO?
  • Million Dollar Mission: Exploring Career Success with Your Youth Complimentary eBook link.

Contribution & Impact:

  • Empowered 60,000+ people from 21 countries in their career development through his books, seminars and workshops
  • Empowered 3,000+ students as Adjunct Lecturer/Career Mentor in Diploma, Bachelors' & Masters' Degree programs from 1995 to 2014
  • Trained 100+ Allied Educators & staff from the Ministry of Education to provide education & career guidance to students in Primary & Secondary Schools
  • Trained 350+ Educators from a Polytechnic to provide career guidance to students via effective career conversations
  • Trained & certified Career Advisors in almost all the local Autonomous Universities
  • Trained Officers from the Ministry of Social & Family Development to provide career assistance to those in need and at-risk populations
  • Helped jumpstart the Employment & Employability Institute in 2008 by training the first 10 batchesof their Employability Coaches, who assisted over 40,000 people during the global financial crisis
  • Empowered 1,000+ career transiting officers in the Military & Police since 2005
  • Trained over 70% of Global Career Development Facilitators (US) in Singapore

You can connect with Han at Han@personalmaster.com

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Singapore's People and Career Development Association

by Sing Chee Wong

Following its official launch on Jan 11, 2018, the People and Career Development Association (PCDA) has successfully initiated several events for the career development community in Singapore.

The Code of Ethics for Career Practitioners was developed for PCDA members and the career development community in Singapore. PCDA initiated this project because it was mindful Singapore has cultural values, beliefs and practices that may differ from those in other countries, hence a Singaporean Code of Ethics would be useful and helpful for local career practitioners, their clients, and the career development community. Clients are likely to be more cooperative to work with the Career Practitioner if they felt that they are understood, and their vocational behavior explained to them in cultural context familiar to them. Setting goals and an action plan to resolve their career issues discussed within this same cultural context would also be better received. The Workforce Singapore, a statutory board under Singapore's Ministry of Manpower, also has adopted this Code of Ethics for the training of Career Advocates and Career Facilitators in Singapore.

Another activity organized jointly by PCDA and Workforce Singapore is a Community of Practice event entitled "Getting Ready for Future of Work - Nature of Work and Careers in the 21st Century", was held on March 21, 2018. The objective of this event was to promote and advance career development practices in Singapore, a mission of PCDA.

The speakers, Prof Trevor Yu of Nanyang Business School and Mr Lau Yin Cheng, Head HR, Group Digital Life, Singtel, emphasised that the Singaporean workforce should recognize the new reality of the 21st century and VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) environment. They suggested that to progress in this fast-changing world it is important to cultivate mindfulness and resilience, assume an edge (over the competition) and develop possibility thinking. They drew attention to the fact that work would not change, but how work is done, will. This is because human beings have the knowledge, and they can train machines (including robots and artificial intelligence) to do the work. Hence workers are urged to sense technological changes early, and respond decisively to innovations brought about by digital revolution, technological changes, demographic and societal changes and global competition.

Singapore's changing employment patterns also were addressed during the March event. There is now a discernible trend in the country towards a gig economy practice, where work is short-term and temporary, self-sourced, contract-based, and specialized. Company/organization loyalty is not part of the package.

The speakers were of the view that the 21st century workers must make adaptation the key lever, whether in job search strategies; being proactive at work; reframing job roles where relevant; and possessing an entrepreneurial mindset of knowing why, how, and whom. Most importantly, it is essential for all workers to engage in lifelong learning, embrace uncertainty and do work that is worth doing.

As an association for the Singapore career development community, PCDA is mindful that it plays a pivotal role in drawing attention to changing employment patterns and the nature of work in Singapore. PCDA and its members will continue to advocate for suitable career development practices for its community through its various activities and events. IT WILL CONTINUE TO NOT ONLY MEET CHALLENGES BUT ALSO BE PROACTIVE!!

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The Career Development Association for Singapore!

By Sing Chee Wong

Singapore has its own Career Development association!

Launched on Jan 11, 2018, the People and Career Development Association (PCDA) aims to promote and advocate for career development in Singapore among career practitioners, and those who have keen interest in career development, but may not offer direct services in this profession. They include Human Resource professionals, Talent Managers, C-suite Executives, Line Supervisors, Teachers/Instructors, Recruiters and even parents! These groups of people exert significant influence on the career planning and development of individuals, especially in career choices of their clients, co-workers, students and children.

We also want to enhance the practice of Career Development in Singapore among our members.

It is therefore PCDA's mission to:

  1. Promote and Advocate for Career Development in Singapore
  2. Advance Career Development Practices in Singapore
  3. Ensure Sustainability to Promote Members' Interests and Benefits

Although the focus is on developing career development in Singapore, PCDA also has a vision to reach out to the Asia Pacific region. Through the Association, we hope to exchange knowledge, best practices, resources, as well as visits with career practitioners and career development associations in the region.

Our mission is to:

"Impact Societies Through Career Development"

At the recent PCDA's launch, hosted by Prudential Insurance, we were pleased to have with us Ms Ono Motoko. She is currently residing in Singapore, and was referred to us by Mr Yoshimi Sasaki, Director-General of Japanese Career Development Association (JCDA). She is our first overseas visitor. We look forward to more of such visits and exchanges.

PCDA has ambitious plans to initiate many projects and activities this year. They include organizing Townhall meetings, Community of Practice activities, Master Classes, conferences, webinars, local research projects, development of action-based resources for use in Singapore, e-bulletins, website development... The list goes on. Finally, we hope to form more relationships and elicit support from friends and Career Development communities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Back To TopMy SkillsFuture Website

by Sing Chee Wong

Singapore has launched a new website to help Singaporeans acquire greater self-awareness, plan for their training and career needs, and adopt learning as a lifelong process. It is complemented by a public outreach initiative known as SkillsFuture Advice. Together, these two initiatives aim to provide Singaporeans with both online and offline access to information about skills and training, as well as job opportunities so that they can actively acquire and deepen their skills and plan their careers suitably. Each Singaporean has a personalised account which can be used throughout one's lifetime, beginning with schooldays.

Whilst schools and Institutions of Higher Learning have career counsellors to guide students from primary/elementary school to universities, members of the public and those in the workforce could seek assistance from SkillsFuture Advice for their career planning needs. This section of the website allows workers and adults looking for employment to find out what jobs that are available as well as the skills required to work in these jobs. It also enables users to identify the skills gap between the skills they already possess and the skills they require to perform the job. The site further directs users to the training/training courses available to acquire these skills.

To encourage more Singaporeans to use and benefit from the "My SkillsFuture" website, talks are regularly conducted at community centres and clubs to reach out to more Singaporeans on skills upgrading and career planning so that no one is left behind as Singapore develops. Every Singaporean above the age of 25 years old is given a SkillsFuture credit of $500 to enable them to register and attend skills training and upgrading courses. In addition there are different incentives for new graduates and mid-career switchers, as well as older Singaporeans and people with special needs to pursue and enhance their careers. For more information on this website, please refer to https://www.myskillsfuture.sg.

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In the Trenches Episode #1: Assessment Tools – Boon or Bane?

by Han Kok Kwang

I am a career professional in private practice, based in Singapore. I am grateful for this opportunity to share what we private practitioners see in the trenches every day, where logical theories and neat structured methods meet fuzzy real world client demands that may not be so rational. Like they say, it can get complicated.

Since I'm fortunate to have worked with a wide spectrum of individuals, from age 12 to 66, low-risk and at-risk individuals, no formal education to post-graduates, blue collar to gold collar, I think it is opportune to share my experiences so that we can all learn and grow together.

As you may have read in earlier issues, there is now a national movement in Singapore called "SkillsFuture" that provides opportunities for all Singaporeans to develop to their fullest potential at different stages of their lives. To find out more, visit https://skillsfuture.gov.sg/. There are 4 key thrusts in this movement and the 1st one is to help individuals make well-informed choices in education, training and careers.

As a result, career development is suddenly thrust to the forefront in schools, tertiary institutions and the workforce. There are education and career counselors assigned to mainstream schools. In tertiary institutions, some lecturers have to double up as career guides and mentors! You can imagine how the lecturers feel when this "extra duty" is assigned on top of their existing overloaded plate in the name of job enlargement.

One of the key tenets in career development is self-discovery, in order to answer the 3 basic questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Where do I want to go (or what do I want to be)?
  • How do I get there?

However, good intent may not always work as planned. For instance, I was engaged to train a group of lecturers to be career guides in a tertiary institution. In the meeting with the powers that be, I was told point blank that career development is good, as long as the status quo is not upset too much. Students are currently assigned to courses based on their academic results. We all know that many would not get into their preferred courses because competition is intense and few would actually know what they want to do with their life in their late teens.

In this instance, the fear is that once students discover their strengths and interests through career development classes, they may ask for a change of course of study. This could trigger an administrative nightmare of paper work and justifications if the numbers asking for transfers are significant. It is a real concern because then the popular courses would be over-subscribed and the less popular ones may have to close due to low intake!

One tool that we used in class was the RIASEC tool by John Holland, where one can find out their best fit work role with their 3-letter RIASEC code based on work interests. The 6 letters in RIASEC covers the whole world of work. To avoid the issue of students using their 3-letter code as an excuse to ask for a course transfer due to wrong fit, we focused on 2 key messages in class:

  1. Work Interest is not competency. Interests alone will not get you a job. You need to work on your competencies to compete and be selected.
  2. Instead of using their 3-letter code to look for specific jobs, we expanded their minds. We told them to explore the work roles in ½ the world of work, which is what the 3 letters covered. Imagine the vast opportunities in half the world of work, rather than by being constrained to just a few jobs. Through the process, they discovered many other options. With options, the world is their oyster and they can look to the future with hope.

To cut a long story short, the status quo was maintained and the lecturers were enlightened. The students were also more informed about their future through career development classes. Win-win-win to say the least.

Till the next time, go M.A.D. (Make a Difference) every day!

Han Kok Kwang is the 1st legacy partner lifetime member of APCDA and the 1st Certified Master of Career Services (NCDA) in Asia. A 30-year veteran & pioneer in the workforce and career development scene in Singapore, he is also an award winning professional and serial author of 5 books on career management, including 2 bestsellers. Han is one of only 2 NCDA Master Trainers in the world (outside USA) where he trains and prepares career practitioners for the CCE GCDF and/or NCDA CCSP credentials, and also to become NCDA instructors. You can reach Han at Han@personalmaster.com

Han actually wrote a book called "Million Dollar Mission" for parents and tertiary students on how they can explore career planning effectively. The topic was also discussed at a session he presented last year at the APCDA Conference in Taipei, with rave reviews. If you are keen, you can download a free preview copy at http://yourmilliondollarmission.com/2015pmrMillionDollarMission-1.pdf

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The Proliferation of Career Development In Singapore

by Gerald Tan

In Jan 2016, I shared a commentary about Singapore embracing Career Development as a critical component towards the strategic development of its economy and workforce. The commentary may be found at the following link The Career Development Pill for Singapore

More than a year later, I am pleased to update that Career Development has continued to proliferate in Singapore. The nation is seeing greater public interest and ownership in career and skills planning - this is evident through the emergence of new and diverse forms of Career Development services offered by both the private and public sectors. This bodes well for Career Development professionals* in Singapore.

*My personal definition of Career Development professionals are people who help others by providing career direction and career transition assistance. These professionals could be career coaches, career counsellors, recruitment specialists.

My commentary will cover the following:

  1. Reasons for Career Development proliferation in Singapore
  2. Beneficiaries of the Career Development proliferation in Singapore
  3. Impact on the Career Development professionals in Singapore

Reasons for the Career Development Proliferation in Singapore

Career Development proliferation in Singapore is caused by two main factors - technology and active government policies.

New Technology Development

Singapore is one of the most internet-connected nations in the world. The total number of personal smart-devices being used exceeds the entire population of Singapore. More recently, the nation has embarked on a 'Smart Nation' effort, to embrace and leverage technology to automate and optimize both work and life.

Global technological developments such as Internet of Things, BlockChain, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data Analytics have started to influence the Career Development services in Singapore. Today, there are private and public sector services to improve job search activities and generate useful labour market information to support career advising as well as help Human Resource recruiters source candidates more accurately and efficiently.

Government Efforts to Restructure the Economy

The Singapore Government has been pushing for economic restructuring to boost the national economy over the last few years. In 2015, the national SkillsFuture initiative was launched to promote the importance of skills mastery and career development with plans to move towards growth opportunities.

To support the economic restructuring efforts, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA), the national agency for manpower development, reorganized itself into two agencies: SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG).

SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has been tasked to drive the nation's SkillsFuture initiative, promote lifelong learning efforts and advocate for skills mastery in order to ensure that the national workforce is sufficiently skilled to embrace new forms of work, an inevitable consequence of increased automation and productivity.

Workforce Singapore (WSG) has been given a mandate to look after the nation's public employment services for people who have been displaced as a result of economic restructuring. WSG also has rolled out initiatives to prepare the employed workforce to navigate career transitions.

Beneficiaries of Career Development Proliferation in Singapore

The proliferation of Career Development in Singapore has created a positive impact on three groups within Singapore: the youth, the employed and the unemployed.

The Youth

Today, the youth in Singapore have more access to career guidance services than before. For instance, students studying in the mainstream schools have access to certified career guidance counsellors. The counsellors have been trained to guide students to make appropriate education and internship choices. At the tertiary education level, government universities and institutions have established their own career guidance offices to provide dedicated career guidance to their students.

In addition, several private sector entities have emerged to provide career related services to students as well as young working adults. For example, tuition services have evolved to include basic career guidance for students. There also has been a rise of online platform service providers. For instance, Glints and TalentTribe specialise in internship/first-work opportunities matching, as well as career advisory services for those in their early careers. Such interventions help youth navigate the school-to-work transition and mitigate their lack of work experience when entering the workforce.

The Unemployed

The unemployed in Singapore received a much-needed boost when the public employment services were enhanced to allow more people to receive help through online and offline platforms. In order to serve a larger group of unemployed, job coaching and job fairs have now been made available on a virtual platform, in addition to the usual event fairs. Coaching services are also being delivered on a group basis to leverage peer-dynamics for better learning.

Within the private sector, specialised career service providers Maximus (from the United States) and Ingeus (from South Korea) have also established a presence in Singapore to provide career services to unemployed professionals. Both aim to bring a fresh service approach compared to our public employment services. Private local firms like Grab and FastJobs have developed mobile applications to facilitate job search and increase access to job vacancies. For example, Grab launched GrabJobs, an application which conducts instant screening via a chatbot and decides instantly if a job applicant is suitable for an interview.

Besides employment assistance, peer-to-peer networking and mentoring efforts initiated by the union (PIVOT ), as well as social media interactions on platforms such as LinkedIn, have also taken off amongst the unemployed professionals. Such initiatives allow the unemployed professionals to take ownership of their employment search, allowing them to make use of the most effective job search method of all-time - 'word of mouth.' The evolution of our public employment services and the newly created help avenues for the unemployed certainly promote a richer and more supportive environment to help the unemployed get employed.

The Employed Workforce

Career Development efforts are typically focused on the youth and the unemployed. In Singapore however, there is a strong desire and push towards raising the awareness of and increasing active participation in career development for the employed workforce.

The government and union have created complementary efforts to study future-growth industries, job prospects and in-demand skills. A national portal for careers and learning will soon be launched to facilitate active planning and preparation for careers. Local private sector technology firms have also sprouted - JobKred and JobTech. They deploy machine learning and data analytics to curate labour market and job information to pinpoint skills demand and industry prospects so as to facilitate skills upgrading and career planning. The government has also subsidised the cost of skills learning under SkillsFuture in order to encourage the workforce to gain new skills as part of their personal career development.

Within the community, ground-up initiatives have been launched to educate workers on the importance of career planning and development. For example, community organizations such as ToDoToDo have started to match district residents to volunteer career guides in order to receive career mentorship. SkillsFuture Advice is a series of workshops designed and delivered by the Government to reach out to the community to promote the importance of skills and career planning. Unibly is a mobile application that helps match mentors to mentees.

The various functions within the Human Resource (HR) department of many organisations have also started to recognise the importance of providing career related services to develop the careers of their employees. With more millennials entering the workforce and the constant battle for talent, career development and progression have become increasingly important HR functions required in order to attract and retain the best talent. As a result, organisations have been turning to specialised companies to provide career development and consultancy services to construct career development frameworks and conduct workshops for their employees.

Impact on Career Development Professionals in Singapore

Career Development professionals in Singapore need to recognize the growing importance of Career Development in Singapore. The professionals need to increase their competence in the field beyond their certifications and constantly seek to leverage newly-created resources mentioned throughout the commentary to ride the Career Development wave in Singapore.

This rising importance of Career Development in Singapore has led the government to develop a national competency framework for Career Development professionals in Singapore - to ensure consistency and standards amongst the professionals.

To further support the developmental needs of Career Development professionals, APCDA's Singapore Country Director, Ms Wong Sing Chee, along with Ms Wendy Lam, Mr Hector Lin and Mr Gerald Tan (the author) have set up the Career Development Interest Group Singapore (CDIG). CDIG was formed as a response to help local Career Development professionals develop and adapt to the latest workforce trends and developments in Singapore. CDIG does this by bringing the community together to work on various learning efforts; including joint development of research, resource kits for different client groups, and communities of practice. CDIG also welcomes thought leaders from the other nations to speak to the Career Development community in Singapore. (Please see Ms Wong Sing Chee's article above.) With such efforts in Singapore, there has never been a more exciting time for the Career Development profession than now!

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Singapore Country Report, May 2016

by Sing Chee Wong

Singapore has attained the status of “Global Career Development Facilitation – Singapore Chapter.” On April 15, 2016, career professionals who completed the “Advanced Certificate in Career Development Facilitation (ACCDF)” course were awarded their Certificates at a Ceremony. These recipients are now eligible to apply to become Global Career Development Facilitators approved by the Centre of Credentialing and Education (CCE), USA. Ms Patricia Gates, Vice President of CCE was at the Ceremony to present the Certificates.

The Institute for Adult Learning, training division of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, initiated the ACCDF course in 2015. Currently, the participants of this course are mainly career coaches working at career centres operated by the Workforce Development Agency and National Trade Union Congress; Education and Career Guidance Counsellors working in schools and educational institutions; Human Resource Officers; and Recruitment Executives. So far, more than 100 career professionals have attended this course, and many more people who are interested in becoming career professionals, are expected to enrol for the course in the near future. The registration fee for this course is heavily subsidised by the Singapore Government to encourage more people to complete the training needed to provide career guidance.

The contents for the ACCDF course were written by a local GCDF Master Trainer and career practitioner in accordance with specifications by CCE. The materials were contextualised to better suit the Singaporean/Asian culture. As far as possible the course contents, including case studies and materials, were written with Singaporean/Asian users in mind, so that they could identify and apply the contents more readily and realistically with their clients. Additional training courses in career development soon will be introduced to provide continuing education opportunities for career professionals who completed the ACCDF course.

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Singapore: Career Development for a Fast Changing World

by Gerald Tan and Jeremiah Wong


This article was written to share our ideas with fellow career development professionals on how to help clients who may not be familiar with the career development process. In today's fast moving economy, clients can no longer afford to be passive in their current jobs. It is all about exploring, learning, connecting and maximising their potential opportunities! The steps proposed are based on Dr John Krumboltz's Happenstance Theory.

Click here to read the full article.


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Equipping Singaporeans with Skills for the Future

by Sing Chee Wong

Singapore has made significant economic progress since becoming an independent nation 50 years ago. Workers with quintessential skills are important for its continuous progress. However, skills mastery is more than just having the right paper qualifications and being good at what the person does currently; it is a mindset of continually striving towards greater excellence through knowledge, application and experience.

A new program called SkillsFuture was developed as a national movement to provide Singaporeans with opportunities to develop their fullest potential throughout life, regardless of their starting points. Practically, there will be a full system of career guidance to help individuals make choices in education, training and careers, starting from educational and career counselling in schools, and extending throughout a person's working life. It will also foster collaboration between the Government, industry, and educational institutions to provide individuals with exposure to a wide range of occupations and industries from young, and ongoing information on the changing needs of the labour market.

A generous training allowance is given to all workers so that they can participate in life-long learning. Every Singapore citizen aged 25 years and above will receive an opening credit of $500 to support his or her learning needs at every stage of life, including those seeking to re-enter the workforce. The credit can be used for work-skills related courses. Periodic top-ups to individuals' account will also be made. This is in addition to the current highly-subsidised training programmes available to all workers.

To address challenges in anticipating manpower needs and to encourage higher productivity among workers, the Singapore Government appointed a committee "Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review" (ASPIRE) to strengthen Singapore's applied education pathways. ASPIRE will work with students in postsecondary schools and institutes and to provide more opportunities for Singaporeans to realise their full potential and aspirations. ASPIRE has recommended that more career guidance services be available for both secondary and postsecondary students. As a result, approximately 300 Career Guidance Officers will be hired and trained to provide ASPIRE's proposed services within the next few years. A new "Specialist Diploma in Career Counseling" has been launched by The Republic Polytechnic, a government institution, to train some of these Officers.

A second career advisor training program is also offered in Singapore. The Institute of Adult Learning, the training wing of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, offers the Career Development Facilitator course. This course is similar to the one developed by NCDA, but its curriculum has been contextualized to suit the Asian culture. The Institute of Adult Learning's program requires candidates to acquire the 12 competencies required by the US's Center for Continuing Education (CCE) to qualify for the Global Career Development Facilitator accreditation. The Institute of Adult Learning is currently working with CCE to accredit this course.

It is an exciting time for career professionals in Singapore!


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November 2013 Singapore Country Report

by Sing Chee Wong

Historically, Singapore was a patriarchal society. Hence, it was common for children to learn and follow the parents' trades, or to continue the family businesses, especially during the era when Singapore was dependent on its entreport trade and related economic activities. However, after becoming an independent nation in 1964, improved economy, better education with emphasis on meritocracy, and higher employment rate changed the livelihood of the people. Career guidance was not deemed necessary then as industrialization and manufacturing provided abundant employment opportunities and workers could hop from job to job till they landed in one that they liked. Lifelong employment was also the norm, so it was not unusual for a worker to work in the same job for his entire work life.

But globalization and changing social values and lifestyles have altered such traditions. Singapore's economy has further evolved, resulting in a demand for workers with high-end and specialised knowledge and skills, e.g. research and development, banking and finance, etc. Hence, job search has become more complex as job seekers attempt to find the fit between themselves and their careers. In addition, globalization has resulted in greater competition, both locally and globally, making it necessary for workers to know themselves and their potential contributions to the companies if they want to excel in their careers. The aging population and low unemployment rate (2%), require older workers to remain in the Singapore workforce to augment manpower needs.

Career guidance is fairly new in Singapore. Educational institutions provide career guidance to students to prepare them for working life after completion of their formal education. Some bigger companies, i.e., multi-national companies seek and identify talents among their staff and endeavour to develop them. For the majority of the Singapore working population, access is available to career guidance at career centres belonging to the Workforce Development Agency and the National Trade Union Congress. At public institutions career guidance services are provided without cost to job seekers. Training is also available for job seekers to upgrade their skills, or to equip them for career transitions, at minimal costs. Job fairs are organized regularly for job seekers to apply for employment opportunities, learn about different kinds of jobs in the labour market, and network with employers.

Singapore's changing economic and social conditions call for greater demand for career guidance services!


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