Opinion: Mindset Change to Enhance Employability of PMEs

PMEs and their companies will need to change their mindset in order to sustain continued efforts to enhance employability of PMEs.

SINGAPORE, June 17, 2014 – In tandem with the government’s effort in coming up with programmes and initiatives targeted at PMEs (professionals, managers and executives) to ensure their employability, as announced in TODAY news article on “More Training for PMETs to Stay Relevant” (20 May 2014), PMEs and their companies will also need to change their mindset and do their part in order to sustain such effort.

PMEs ought to recognise their vulnerability in the local labour market, in view of the emerging trends such as Singapore’s economical landscape being increasingly dynamic, especially in the next few years, and the growing number of PMEs entering the labour market annually, which will eventually affect their future employability.

Proactive Approach to Personal Career Planning

In response, PMEs need to be more deliberate and purposeful, and take concrete action to make themselves “future-ready” and “retrenchment-proof”. One suggestion is for PMEs to adopt a more proactive approach in planning and managing their personal career development. This is especially so when PMEs are still in their current jobs, in order to optimise the available developmental opportunities to acquire new experiences, enlarge their job portfolio, and enhance their skills-set.

Specifically, PMEs may consider mapping out their personal career roadmaps, with detailed milestones and time horizon, to facilitate short to long term planning of skills acquisition and the relevant major job assignments to take up. The personal career roadmap may even involve planned transition to other companies and may even cross to other industries.

Being Open to Life Skills and Career Coaching

For PMEs who are unsure and less certain of their career progression, they may need to be open to the idea of getting help from life-skills and career coaches. Life skills and career coaching can help them clarify their personal aspiration, values, motivation, strengths and weaknesses, which are important factors driving individuals towards sustained professional success. In addition, the life skills and career coaches can inspire individuals to continually move forward and take actual steps towards achieving their career objectives.

Intentional in Building Personal Professional Branding

Thirdly, PMEs needed to be open to the idea of “branding” themselves. Just as businesses work hard to establish a well-known brand identity for their products and services, PMEs must also be mindful of their “brand identities” that they are “communicating” to the people they work with. They must be aware of the type of professional values others would associate them of when others see how they work. Through doing so, PMEs are slowly creating doors of opportunities for themselves in terms of employability.

Finally, if all things fail, PMEs need to adopt a flexible frame of mind, be willing to adjust their career aspiration and be open to switch to a new industry or profession, if necessary. PMEs can leverage and tap on the growing Continuing Education and Training system, as well as the various mid-career professional conversion programmes offered at national level to make a successful transition.

Willing to Support Employee Self-Development

For the employers, they must play their part and be willing to support employee self-development, by sending their employees to skills upgrading and training courses. Understandably, this is challenging, especially in the current tight labour situation, where businesses are generally lacking the necessary labour to run their daily operations. Nonetheless, employers should continue to adopt a win-win stance in managing their human capital. As the employees benefit personally through improving their professional skills, employers will also gain by meeting their employees’ development needs, contributing to employee and capability retention, and resulting in productivity gain.

Progressive Approach to Capacity and Capability Building

Another common reason why employers may be reluctant to devote resources for employee development is the fear of their employees leaving for other companies or competitors, once the employees have become more competent and proficient in their work. Instead of the stark reality where employers could not find the right employees with the relevant skills-set available to enable their enterprises to take on new business opportunities, it would be more beneficial for employers to build human capacities and capabilities without fear of their employees leaving in the first place. By building beyond the current operational needs, employers will be able to seize growth opportunity as they emerge.

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