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All you need to know about building a future-ready workforce in 2020 and beyond

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In PwC's annual global CEO survey, conducted in 2019 for the 22nd consecutive year, 1,378 CEOs in APAC, ASEAN and worldwide were interviewed on their number one business threat in 2020. Their answer was not cyber security, it was not even the speed of technological change. It was the availability of key skills.

Against this backdrop, Human Resources Online (HRO) and SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) partnered on 15 January for the inaugural edition of SSGxHRO Conversations, where the theme was around driving business competitiveness with a future-ready workforce.

All speakers have been recipients of the prestigious SkillsFuture Employer Awards, and joined the half-day symposium to share their organisations’ most effective L&D practices.

The event, held at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, saw participation from over 120 delegates comprising senior HR and C-suite leaders, and prompted several timely conversations on digitalisation to stakeholder buy-in, from learning agility to ROI, and more.

Here, we've summarised some of the learnings from the event, that comprised a series of short and snappy lightning talks, a showcase session hosted by SSG, and an engaging panel discussion, hosted by HRO's Aditi Sharma Kalra.

Jovi Seet, Human Capital Leader, PwC Singapore as the opening speaker, whose talk centred about future-ready programmes for the workforce.


Digital upskilling is a large aspect of L&D in PwC and it involves many stakeholders driving different components. As such, PwC is taking a three-pronged approach to close the gap between existing and future skills:

  • Identifying the knowledge, skills and experience that will be most valuable in the future for new and transformed roles;
  • Highlighting individuals who can excel in these roles; and
  • Developing an effective way to develop and inspire people to take action today.
In doing so, Seet and his team have successfully curated a range of programmes, such a digital academy, a collaboration with IMDA on the TechSkills Accelerator to promote ICT sector professionals and create opportunities for mid-career professionals, and more.

Key takeaway: Five building blocks of upskilling

  • Identify skills gaps and mismatches
  • Build a future-proof skills strategy
  • Lay the cultural foundation
  • Develop and implement upskilling
  • Evaluate return on investment

A long-time veteran of the ICT industry since 1989, Francis Goh, Chief Executive Officer, Netpoleon Solutions, was the next speaker, where he shared a use-case on developing specialists for high-skilled jobs such as cybersecurity, and in the process how to overcome any competency gaps.


He set the context: "Concepts such as IOT, smart city, DX, DevOps, and FinTech - they all rest on your IT/cloud, network infrastructure. However, cybersecurity is what bridges the gap between the two and it is essential."

Therefore, he spearheaded the development of a three-month in-house Cybersecurity Bootcamp Programme, that recruited fresh graduates (with a focus on gender diversity) and mid-career switchers to IT.

Led by experienced in-house practitioners-turned-trainers, the biggest benefit of doing everything in-house was the context that the trainers brought to the table, in terms of company and industry knowledge.

Key takeaway: The outcomes of the in-house L&D bootcamp

  • Understand the trainees' technical ability and aptitude
  • Better alignment of their tech capability to suitable technology
  • Ultimately, higher productivity for employees and the organisation

The next session was an interesting SkillsFuture Showcase, with the objective of sharing some programmes and ideas beneficial to employers in Singapore.

It was led by SSG's Director of Enterprise Engagement Office, Peggy Lim, who works with intermediaries and key stakeholders to address needs of organisations in order to support their transformation in three buckets - jobs skills insights, workplace learning, and skills training.


She took the time to take delegates through demos such as the Enterprise Job and Skills Portal, where employers can search for their requirements by business needs and categories. They can even tap into a massive 33 Skills Framework templates across various industry sectors, as editable HR templates based on the selected job roles.

One of the many programmes that Lim talked about was the Internationalisation Skills (iSkills) Talent Development Programme, which has been launched in partnership with the International Trading Institute at Singapore Management University ([email protected]), support from Enterprise Singapore (ESG), and Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) as a knowledge partner.

It helps to identify critical internationalisation skills that enterprises need to develop in their workforce in order to operate effectively overseas, and building job skills insights to support decision making through tools such as big data, analytics, research, webinars, and more.

Key takeaway: Popular SkillsFuture Series courses for employers to consider

  • NICF – Certified ScrumMaster(Urban Solutions – Advanced)
  • Alibaba Global Course(Data Analytics – Intermediate)
  • Appreciation of IoT and Data Management(Advanced Manufacturing – Basic)
  • Data Analytics Begins with Me(Data Analytics – Basic)
  • AI in Finance(Finance – Basic)

The final session was a panel discussion on the topic of fostering a learning culture in the organisation to develop a high-performing workforce.

Moderated by HRO's Aditi Sharma Kalra, the panelists were Netpolean's Francis GohJosephine Chua, Director of Human Resources & Quality, Ramada and Days Hotels by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park; Jessica Simpson, HR Director, Amgen Singapore Manufacturing (ASM); Esther Teo, Human Capital Director, PwC Singapore; and SSG's Peggy Lim (pictured below L-R).


The insight-packed conversation was driven by anecdotes and examples from the panelists, as well as questions from delegates around growth mindset, overcoming resistance, and more.

Panelists agreed that in order to cultivate a growth mindset, not only is it important to make learning fun and gamified, but also to keep sharing success stories, big and small. In fact, communication is never enough! At the start however, the most important thing is for the learning content to be curated, so that employees know "what's in it for me" at the right time and role.

Key takeaway: Success indicators of your organisation's learning journey

  1. Don't forget to track what you can measure in a given time period - E.g. employee retention / lateral experiences / individual development plans / career mapping as part of talent planning
  2. Typical HR dashboards will come handy constantly, e.g. in tracking employee engagement, succession planning, talent management, and more.
  3. Regular conversations with staff are essential. Talk to your employee about their personal goals and ambitions, and not just their professional goals, as the two are interlinked.
  4. HR needs to constantly align more with the business. We need to find ways to impact company performance, and yet empower line manager to speak the language of HR (through their KPIs).
  5. At SSG, the team writes their own job descriptions using the SkillsFuture Frameworks cited above. This enabled them to grow beyond current needs, and add the-extra-mile elements as part of their daily work and performance.

To learn more and participate in such events, please write to [email protected] 

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