CEO of e2i, Mr Gilbert Tan
Celebrating 10 Years Walking A Road Less Travelled
2018 saw e2i celebrating our 10th year in creating solutions for better employment and employability. The road to our 10th year anniversary has been exciting and tumultuous, with many milestones achieved along the way, but not without its own set of challenges.
e2i was an organisation that was born out of crisis. The Lehman Brothers collapse triggered a global financial crisis in 2008, forcing some companies to shut down operations, with many workers losing their jobs and their livelihood as a result. Fear and panic gripped economies, businesses and workers in Singapore and around the world.
At e2i's 10th Year Anniversary
That same year, e2i was set up by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), supported by the Singapore Labour Foundation (SLF) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), to prevent structural unemployment and to help displaced workers into new jobs. e2i soon became a place to provide one-stop employment services to workers on developing the right mindset, skills and job opportunities to stay employable on their career journey.
Walking The Journey With You In 2018
10 years later, we have continued to journey alongside workers, through ups and downs. However, e2i is not alone in this journey – as part of NTUC, who is at the heart of the Labour Movement, we work alongside our tripartite partners, various unions, government agencies, training providers, industry partners and employers to address manpower gaps, skill up the workforce, drive job re-creation and collaborate on industry transformation projects.
The need for industry and workforce transformation has become even more pertinent in the current economic and employment landscape. 2018 was a year of transition and disruption, and like most transitions, change is challenging and sometimes painful. Despite the growth of the economy in 2018, we have seen an increasing concern for jobs-skills mismatch, especially for PMETs and mature workers, where repetitive and mundane jobs are highly disrupted by technology and there is a significant shift in the nature of work.
What then does this mean for our workforce? Is technology to be feared, to be shunted aside in favour of protecting our workers? Technology is not the enemy, but rather, it is the fear of change and reinvention that will bring us down. If we prepare ourselves for digitalisation and disruption and embrace the change that it brings, we will discover that we have an incredible capacity within ourselves to learn and to grow.
Mr Mark Kuah is one such person who made the leap to embrace changes in his life. When he was young, he ventured overseas to Cambodia in search of new challenges where he built his career for 23 years. However, upon his return to Singapore, he had difficulty landing a job due to his lack of paper qualifications, and spent a year applying for jobs online with little success. That was when he turned to e2i for help and was guided by one of our career coaches on his employability journey. He also received resume and interview tips from a three-day Executive workshop organised by e2i, and found a support group, whom he keeps in touch with till today.
Mr Mark Kuah [Photo credit: Jonathan Tan]
While he was receiving help throughout this time, Mr Mark Kuah took the initiative to upgrade himself constantly. He took up different digital courses such as Access Database Training, PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers) Programming for automation projects, Autocad software knowledge and even Cyber Security.
It was then that he met Eligo through e2i’s wholesale trade career fair and participated in a Career Trial Programme. His jovial attitude and his willingness to learn resonated well with employer. Eligo was impressed that even at 58 years old, Mark managed to undergo an intensive course for him to be a ‘certified hacker’. Mark shared that he believed in making things work to be happy in any place, so that his environment is a jovial place to work in.
Today, he is a sales engineer at Eligo.
Likewise, e2i has had to evolve and transform itself in its approach along the years as it assists workers seeking skills and career growth. We are heartened to have assisted more than 100,000 workers in 2018 – with 11,200 workers placed, 87,200 workers trained, and 6,800 workers impacted in productivity solutions.
Matching Workers to Jobs in Sunrise Sectors
New sectors are growing at a rapid rate as the nature of work changes. Take for example, the early childhood sector. The increasing number of dual income couples also means that there is a demand for early childhood services in Singapore. Over 20,000 early childhood professionals will be required to meet the expanding sector’s manpower needs by 2020.
As the Early Childhood sector grows, so does the demand for quality manpower
To attract and retain quality manpower in the sector, the Essential Domestic Services Training Committee, which comprises of e2i and the Education Services Union, rolled out new initiatives such as the Career Trial at the Early Childhood Immersion Fair to operationalise the Early Childhood Industry Transformation Map for better placement and training opportunities. The Career Trial allowed 200 job seekers keen to join the EC sector to gain some experience and get a taste of what the work entailed, whilst allowing the pre-school operator to also assess the job seeker and determine if the candidate is a good fit.
To further strengthen the local core in various industries, e2i works closely with many companies to attract locals into new jobs. The opening of the SMRT Thomson–East Coast line (STEL), resulted in new positions for executives, assistant engineers and engineers. e2i collaborated with STEL to organise a career fair with openings for Diploma holders and had a good job-match rate at the career fair, with multiple runs lined up following the success at the first career fair.
Not forgetting the need to be more inclusive, e2i collaborated with New Hope Community Service to jointly organise a community job fair, offering over 300 full-time, part-time and flexi-job openings targeted at low income and vulnerable job seekers to match them to good jobs.
New Ways of Training, New Skills, New Jobs
While training is key to help our workers adapt to the challenges of technological disruptions and changing business models, we also live in an exciting time where many futuristic technologies have created paradigm shifts in the world of training and skills upgrading. Take for example, welding skills. Welding is an important trade skill and is a skill in demand across diverse manufacturing and civil industries. Many people have the perception of welding as the usage of a blowtorch at high heat, with many safety concerns.
However, all that has since changed. Welding has since transformed to incorporate the latest cutting-edge technology. e2i and Uniweld Products (USA) Pte Ltd jointly organised a first-of-its-kind Augmented Reality (AR) welding training Masterclass, targeted at industry practitioners, employers and Institutes of Higher Learning. The AR welding training system allowed for 4 times as many students to be educated and reduce real workshop time by almost 50%.
New AR welding training [Photo credit: Mr Koh Poh Koon’s Facebook]
Besides new technologies, the demand for new skills are steadily increasing as jobs, businesses, and industries change. e2i, in collaboration with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), Association of Bartenders & Sommeliers Singapore and the School of Coffee, created a dedicated space in NYP, called the Liquid Room, to nurture student and adult learners to become the mixologists, baristas, tea and wine sommeliers of tomorrow.
2018 also saw the launch of several Skills Frameworks to upskill our workers in the Wholesale Trade, Marine Engineering, Manufacturing and Public Transport industries. As Industry 4.0 becomes a reality day by day, e2i is working steadily to operationalise the ITMs, develop new training initiatives and approaches to help our local workforce deepen their competencies.
With workers at the heart of e2i, productivity projects that companies roll out are to be planned with the workers in mind. Even if companies adopt all the advanced technologies available, their workers still need to be on board the transformation journey for companies to fully utilise the technologies available. e2i supported Marina Bay Sands in the development of a ground-breaking robotic cutlery roll up technology where it could roll 3,500 napkins daily for use across the integrated resort’s food and beverage establishments. With such tedious and low value tasks taken care of by the robotic arm, MBS’ staff were redeployed to focus on more meaningful roles to provide better service to guests and improve customer experience.
3,500 napkins a day!
Forging New Paths
As we wrap up 10 years in e2i, we too also wish to focus on providing even better and more meaningful services to the workforce in Singapore. What lies ahead in 2019? We are excited to embark on interesting new initiatives, as ideas will power the future. However, even as e2i transforms its approach to helping workers and employers, our service heart remains the same. If you are someone searching for career guidance, e2i will continue to assist and empower you on your employment and employability journey, and if you are an employer, e2i will partner you on your recruitment, training and retention journey.