Making digital upskilling accessible for mature learners in a data-heavy world

The process of upskilling is imperative for many mature learners to advance further in their career goals or for the mid-career switch that they have always desired. But why do most mature learners find it difficult?

The technological advances in recent years have radically altered the way we live, work and interact with one another. The complexity and scale of the digital transformation revved up by the pandemic are also unlike anything we have experienced before. As a matter of survival, it is no surprise that building up tech skills and adopting digital capabilities is now an essential response to the evolving industry demands and digitalization forces.

Interestingly, the persistent unemployment and economic hardship in a post-Covid world elude  the tech sector. In a recent survey by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the roles relating to  information technology and multimedia development remain highly sought-after, especially  since digital technologies play a pivotal part in the current economy.

With a greater focus on innovation and growth, the government is spearheading schemes and initiatives to support individuals in upskilling through SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme, Mid-Career Support Package, and more. Yet, despite the government’s efforts, 49% of working professionals said they are “too busy with work” to think about upskilling and 32% cited that they could not find someone to cover them. The notion of unlearning and relearning is also daunting to many, especially for mature learners.

In spite of this, the process of upskilling is imperative for many mature learners to advance further in their career goals or for the mid-career switch that they have always desired. From my conversations with mature learners, upskilling in the digital sphere has become increasingly relevant for an increasing number of older learners.

In fact, the reality is that flexible, skill-based training is, perhaps, the only way to survive the furloughs or lay-offs triggered by the pandemic. Employers have a role to play with helping to send their team members to different courses for upskilling. Yet, employees should also reflect on their value and adaptability to rise up to digital challenges by picking up new tech skills, as one of the larger gaps identified in the labor market is the lack of necessary specialized skills. Other emerging and high-paying skills that the government has identified among the eight key drivers to dominate the tech space in the years to come also include Data Analytics and Digital Marketing.

This is not lost on many mature learners in Singapore. The demand for data analytics professionals, with the right expertise to interpret data charts and graphs, has revealed itself most prominently in the Great Resignation and its aftermath. In fact, The World Economic Forum has predicted that a shocking 85% of companies would have integrated big data and analytics technologies by the end of this year.

Many mature learners are thus more eager to pick up the relevant skills in this field. Mature learners who want to keep up-to-date with the evolution of skills and demands of the global economy can learn from skilled trainers who are experts in the relevant fields in beginner-friendly classroom settings, to ensure lessons are easy to understand and pick up.

In encouraging adult learners with full-time commitments to pursue a new skill, the courses can be completed within a month and are scheduled on weekends to provide the required flexibility. Contrary to the idea that upskilling often comes with a hefty price tag, eligible Singaporeans or PRs can also receive up to 90% in IBF funding support (T&Cs apply) and offset the remaining via SkillsFuture Credits.

In essence, although picking up technical skills is a pertinent step to excel in the talent market and grow professionally, one of the key characteristics to winning the talent war and excelling in the job market is to maintain a positive mindset. Embracing lifelong learning is one of the ways businesses and individuals can survive the unpredictable future. If anything, remaining competitive during economic uncertainty is crucial for increased capabilities and improved work performance. Individuals should adopt a long-term growth mindset to see upskilling as an investment where benefits are to be reaped in the long run – greater job security, increased career opportunities, and better compensation packages.