nurture talent

No matter where you are, the world of work is changing. Singaporean youth have struggled to find work during the pandemic; we’ve seen estimates that only nine per cent of the US workforce will be employed full-time by 2030.

Data entry and customer service tasks once completed by humans are now being passed off to faceless machines and bots. At every turn, headlines claim we’ll lose millions of jobs permanently to devices of our own creation.

Already, we can imagine how different things will be in the coming decades. Rapid industrialisation has caused demands for energy and water to potentially increase 40 to 50 per cent by 2030.

Integrated ecosystems—”internets”—of humans, robots, and machines are consuming and producing record-breaking amounts of data, demanding more energy and resources. Manufacturing, sustainable energy, waste management, and other industries have already begun to revitalise for a tougher future. 

Nurturing the next generation of talent—one that stands firm in the face of automation and other emerging developments—means preparing them to solve problems that do not yet exist.

Resources and next steps are out there: take Young NTUC’s LIT Discovery 2021, for example.

This fully online event featured a smorgasbord of exciting panellists, and also provided job seekers access to guidance, career opportunities, and insights on the future of work.

What else can be done to nurture the next generation? Read on to find out.

Also Read: Meet Inavoice, your new go-to platform for voice-over talents and background musicians

New talents need more hands-on experience and mentorship

Lynn Dang, HR Leader at Microsoft Singapore, mentioned that LinkedIn saw a five-fold increase of remote work job postings during the pandemic.

Today, 16 per cent of all companies worldwide are already fully remote. Blurred regional boundaries make it possible for people from all across the world to work and collaborate.

Additionally, it’s estimated that, by 2035, over 40 per cent of jobs will be displaced by Big Data, AI, and automation. About a third of all employees expect their jobs to be fully automated in three years.

Tech talents of the future must be prepared to work alongside technology. This requires a shift towards creative problem solving, critical thinking, and adeptness at utilizing machines, data tools, and bots. 

“If you can adapt to this environment, then your opportunity is not just limited to Singapore. You can tap into opportunities anywhere in the world,” says Ho Seng Chee, Chief Corporate Officer at JustCo.

Companies seeking to turn the key on remote and hybrid working arrangements can:

  • Delineate clear processes and platforms to facilitate asynchronous remote work
  • Create a minimum standard of communication and availability
  • Offer one-time stipends for talent who don’t have home offices
  • Invest in talent by covering the costs of developmental courses

And what do these developments mean for talent? The competition will become tougher, and it’ll take more effort to stand out from the crowd. Young graduates, mid-career switchers, and general job seekers will benefit from mentorship and education about different work cultures and communication styles—especially in Asia, where many cultural differences are at play. 

(Micro)certifications like the ones offered by Google, Amazon Web Services, the Project Management Institute (PMI), and massively open online courses (MOOC) can help talent get up to speed with emerging technologies and strengthen their skillsets.

The career programmes like the ones offered by Young NTUC’s LIT (Learning is Triggered) Series are even more valuable because they deliver a combination of hands-on experience, mentorship, and theory.

Building awareness of the tech opportunities

In the face of global challenges, many new industries are emerging. Two of the most exciting are green technology (greentech) and financial technology (fintech).

The challenge of climate change

Despite its harsh environmental impact, the global oil and gas industry is one of the top ten fastest-growing industries in the world.

Hastened by regulatory and consumer pressure, oil and gas conglomerates (and businesses from many other sectors) are partnering with greentech firms to achieve their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals.

Also Read: The hunt for talent: How to attract world class entrepreneurs to corporate ventures

Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, stated during the LIT Discovery 2021 event that “many things will be reimagined: supply chains, industry—so that we consume less energy, less fuel, and produce less CO2. All these will require re-engineering.” 

Helming this re-imagination of industry are a bumper crop of incredible green startups like ATEC Biodigesters International, Third Wave Power, Sensorflow, RAD Green Solutions, and Cleverheat. They’re all hungry for fresh talent with skills in engineering, operational and supply chain management and process monitoring. 

“Everything we do has an impact on the environment and the people,” reminds Esther An, Chief Sustainability Officer at City Developments Limited. “We can make a positive change.”

The challenge of financial inclusion

Home to over 40 per cent of all fintech startups in the region, Singapore is known as the hub of fintech in Southeast Asia. In 2020, the industry employed over 10,000 people and has received a cumulative US$2.5 billion in funding over five years.

Indonesia, meanwhile, boasts various startups that have been hailed to boost financial inclusion. These include digital payment system OVO, P2P lending company Koinworks, and blockchain company Tokoin.

Irene Lim, Executive Director at J.P. Morgan, defines fintech as any kind of technology that can be applied in financial use cases. This includes technologies for insurance, taxes, and personal wealth.

She notes the high demand for software developers, blockchain experts, cybersecurity leaders, data specialists, and DevOps specialists.

Doing the impossible

The next generation of talents must prepare themselves to master technologies that have not yet been invented to solve problems that do not yet exist.

What can we do?

Nurture soft skills

We need to prepare the next generation of talents to work optimally in such an environment by teaching digital literacy as early as possible. 

Increase exposure to tech

Talent must be taught to work harmoniously alongside emerging technologies to lead teams and manage projects to their desired goals. 

Welcome talents from other industries

Robots can follow instructions much better than humans can. Therefore, talents need to make full use of their non-technical skills and backgrounds to improve the way technology is used. Creative individuals are a boon.

Case in point: Lin Yanxiang, now the Deputy Group Director of the Manpower and Strategy Planning Group at Building and Construction Authority, got her career start as an English teacher. 

Take more chances on non-traditional talent

According to Eric Lim, Chief Sustainability Officer at UOB, “We are starting to see a corporate track that’s coming up where talents don’t need to come from a strong risk or banker background.”

Also Read: How Endowus co-founder Samuel Rhee attracts, builds, and maintains a world-class team

Recruiters can take a chance on bright talent from fields like the arts, history, and social sciences.

Revamp industry through cohesive marketing efforts

Yanxiang remarks, “We can shift these sectors away from something that’s perceived as dirty, dangerous and demanding into one which is modern, technologically advanced, and can offer good jobs and working environments for the people.” This will encourage talents to view industry careers as meaningful opportunities.

Improve access to opportunities

Executives and leadership can take the initiative to develop accessible training and internship programmes for people of all backgrounds. A commitment to fairer, less discriminatory hiring can also go a long way.

With a thorough understanding of these technology trends, the task of nurturing the next generation of tech talents does not seem so impossible, after all.

By fostering these various skillsets, the next generation of tech talents will be ready to adapt and learn new technologies as they come. They will be well-equipped to solve the problems of the future and be fully ready to make the most of their opportunities.

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