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Reskilling & upskilling - what does it mean to you?
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Reskilling & upskilling - what does it mean to you?


This article is brought to you by BDO

As we move into the post-pandemic era, Portia Tang, Director, Head of Professional Resources Solutions & Client Services, asks HR professionals to consider, are we willing to change to adapt to the new normal?

Reskilling & upskilling are trends that have been brewing even before the pandemic, but were simply catalysed with the onslaught of COVID-19, where companies and employees were scrambling to adapt overnight to the drastically changed business landscape, skill requirements, and job expectations.

The pandemic highlighted how individuals who constantly reskill and upskill themselves would be equipped for more extraordinary career opportunities. In my role, I have seen many candidates losing out on great opportunities simply because employers expect candidates to possess additional skillsets on top of the knowledge and experience required for standard job scopes.

I myself have gone through a transformation journey through my career. I was professionally trained as a Chartered Accountant and have transformed from an auditor initially, to a finance professional specialising in a large variety of business advisory and consulting services, to where I am now, working as an HR practitioner and thought leader. I know that my transformation journey will continue, with more exciting opportunities to come!

I strongly believe that one of the keys to business success is hiring the right talent. They are the ones who possess creativity and think out-of-the-box.

They are flexible and are receptive to new ideas. They have a positive “can-do” attitude and are passionate about personal growth. More importantly, they are willing to step out of their comfort zone and transform into someone with more attractive career advancements.

Having said that, I love to hire people who possess transformed and transferrable skillsets. Talents with such qualities will usually have the caliber and skills to survive through the different stages of a company’s lifecycle, both good and bad times.

Therefore, I am excited to share with you the transformation story of my Senior Manager, Christy Lam, who achieved a radical transformation of her career through constant learning and upskilling. [case study below]

How this former professional jockey galloped into the accounting and HR industry

[As shared by Christy Lam] Since young, I always had visions of achieving great things. At the age of 15, a newspaper article, recruiting for the professional jockey training programme, by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) caught my attention. Being a horse lover, I decided to drop out of school to pursue my dream of becoming a female jockey in Hong Kong. I survived the three-year intensive reskilling programme, and in the end outperformed other trainees to be awarded the “Best Jockey Trainee of the Year.”

bdo 2nd pic hires

Moving forward from this extraordinary journey, I realised the importance of the need to reskill in order to survive in the commercial world outside of this sport. At the age of 18, I continued my secondary education in Hong Kong and went abroad to pursue my Bachelor in Accounting.

Upon graduation, I anchored my new career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. With the rapidly changing market, my transformation continued. I found passion in HR recruitment and was grateful to receive a host of upskilling and reskilling programmes with a global recruitment agency.

After seven years of working in traditional recruitment firms, I joined BDO’s Professional Resources Solutions, where I galloped to set new goals and provide our clients with one-stop solutions in professional secondment, resource outsourcing, executive search, and recruitment services.

As we move into the post-pandemic era, we need to ask ourselves – are we willing to change to adapt to the new normal? This is not an easy question to answer, given that we have entered an ’age of acceleration’.

As the business environment evolves, so does the market value of skills. In the past, the half-life of a skill was 30 years, it has now shortened to five years – meaning that in five years’ time, the value of our current skillsets will only be worth half of what it is today, and I foresee this half-life will continue to shorten.

Time slows for no one, and progress is constant. If we are unable to accept the need to continuously reskill and upskill, we are accepting our gradual decline into irrelevance. “It is never too late to start changing our mindsets!” I always tell my fellow colleagues, consultants, candidates, and clients.

Photo / Provided

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