National Trades Union Congress
(NTUC) has urged Singaporean professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) to prepare themselves for an increasingly competitive global workforce.
“Today, we have about one third of our workforce comprising of PMEs. I think it is important that they stay resilient because of global uncertainties. Things may change and there will be ups and downs in the economy,” Patrick Tay, assistant general secretary of NTUC, said.
Tay and other key figures in the NTUC were speaking at the Future Leaders Summit, an annual event that fosters leadership and innovation in the Singapore workforce.
Soft skills were a key focus area at the Summit. With cycles of change occurring more often, Vivek Kumar, director of the NTUC U-Associate and Future Leaders Programme said that these skills were necessary for PMEs to survive this turbulent environment.
“With the world changing so rapidly around us, companies are looking for what we call survival skills, or soft skills. It is a sense of resilience, adaptability, intellectual ability and versatility, so that when the situation around us changes … we don’t struggle to stay afloat, but we go right in there and pick up the challenge.”
This echoes results from the Global Talent Index Report 2015
by Heidrick & Struggles which found that even in developed countries there remained “serious shortages of recruits with the critical ‘soft’ skills companies require most”.
“The rarest personality traits throughout the world are resilience, adaptability, intellectual agility, versatility – in other words, the ability to deal with a changing situation and not get paralysed by it,” Karl-Heinz Oehler, vice-president of global talent management at Hertz said in the report.
Overseas experience was also crucial for the PME who wanted to become future ready, said Chan Chun Sing
, secretary-general of NTUC, especially in a major global hub like Singapore. He encouraged all local PMEs to seek opportunities abroad to gain a diverse range of experience.
“In Singapore, you will find more and more regional and global headquarters… They need teams of people who have global and regional perspectives - people who are familiar with the local market in Singapore, the regional market in Southeast Asia, and who can connect with the international market beyond.”
Finally, the dual aspects of rapidly-changing technology – their benefits and risks – were also brought up at the Summit. Darius Cheung, co-founder and CEO of digital property portal, 99.co, said that while these advances have threatened existing business models, PMEs could also use them to promote innovation within their companies.
“I think Singapore is particularly fortunate to be at the forefront of technology. We are very advanced with a developed economy. We are at the confluence of both east and west, so we see both American and Chinese innovation. I think there is a tremendous opportunity for [Singaporean PMEs] to capture this,” Cheung said.
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