We Asked S’pore Firms What They Look For In Workers Switching To Tech

COVID-19 has accelerated digitization and automation at an unprecedented rate. Overnight, existing industries had to embrace new technologies and innovate, or else they would be left behind.

This means that many business operations will be redesigned to place more emphasis on technology.

“Therefore, technological skills will be needed in all industrial sectors; even in the tech sector where new technological skills need to be learned, ”said Dr Chong Yoke Sin, President of the Singapore Computer Society (SCS).

SCS is the premier digital media and information company for industry professionals, executives, students and tech enthusiasts.

That said, if you’ve been honing your skills in a different career for years, but now want to move on to a career in technology, how can you make that transition?

After all, it’s natural to be reluctant to switch to a completely different industry due to fear of change or lack of confidence.

Additionally, having to learn new skills to adapt to a new industry can be seen as difficult.

Given these concerns about changing mid-career paths, we asked some companies in Singapore what they look for in workers transitioning to tech and how you can help yourself make the transition to a new career.

How mature PMETs bring value to organizations

According to May Wee, Human Resources Director of Integrated Health Information Systems (IHiS), an older worker can be an asset for the company because he has a wealth of experience which can enable him to mentor young workers.

May Wee of IHiS
May Wee / Image Credit: IHiS

Mature PMETs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians) are able to bring with them good experience gained while working with other organizations or industries to further improve processes and practices within IHiS.

– May Wee, human resources manager for integrated health information systems (IHiS)

On a related note, Lim Peck Hui, managing director of Tunity Technologies, said mature PMETs are also able “to appreciate the reality of work issues than new members who are more idealistic.”

In fact, 13 of the 14 tech companies that SGTech – the trade association for the tech industry – has registered with are open to hiring mid-career changers, even if they don’t have any. ‘Relevant experience.

May also pointed out that there is indeed a strong demand for mature and IT skilled PMETs, especially with “intense competition from both the public and private sectors, a small core from Singapore and some skill mismatch. “.

Increase their chances of switching to technology

Sharon Teo, CEO of tech company Inspire-Tech, said she doesn’t mind that career changers don’t have the right experience.

Instead, what matters to her is that they have a “positive attitude, are ready to learn and have good soft skills”.

Peck Hui agreed, and said everything is fine as long as career changers are “open-minded to unlearn and relearn”.

They can’t be too obsessed with how things should be done and bring their previous rules or work processes and force them into the new organization.

– Lim Peck Hui, Managing Director of Tunity Technologies

Man looking out the window
Image Credit: iStock

In addition to technical skills, employers are often concerned with soft skills and company cultural fit issues when hiring mature SMETs.

Cultural fit issues such as intergenerational differences, new management styles, and organizational structures in the tech industry can be confusing for mature SMETs.

However, recruiters tend to look for soft skills such as agility, adaptability, problem solving, communication, leadership as well as a willingness to learn and take risks.

That said, new hires without relevant technology experience should be prepared for a steep learning curve and adopt a growth mindset for continuous learning and re-qualification or upskilling.

How these people made their career changes

May said they have had several successful career changes to tech in IHiS.

“One of our recent recruits, Daniel, was a major in English Literature and an editor who couldn’t write a [single] line of code. ”

However, he has a keen interest in HealthTech and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

With this, he participated in the Tech Immersion and Placement program of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and started working in IHiS in March 2020 as a front-end developer.

While the learning curve was steep, Daniel was optimistic and displayed a growth mindset.

Coupled with the strong support and close guidance from his hiring manager and the IHiS team, he has contributed to two projects that have significantly contributed to improving productivity and the patient experience during COVID-19.

Sharon Teo of Inspire-Tech
Sharon Teo / Image credit: Inspire-Tech

For Inspire-Tech, Sharon also shared the successful story of a mature PMET who had worked for over 30 years in the financial industry, most of the time spent overseas.

Back in Singapore, he found it difficult to seize opportunities in the same industry. That’s why he decided to broaden his options and consider the tech sector.

Through a career support group led by SGTech in partnership with Growthbeans, PMET got acquainted with Inspire-Tech who helped create a three month onboarding program for them.

The connection forged was an opportunity for both sides to assess each other and determine whether there was a good fit and whether a mid-career shift to technology was possible.

Over the three months, he gained domain and product knowledge through the technical training provided. He was also able to offer Inspire-Tech valuable professional, operational and transferable life experience.

Given his positive attitude, curious mindset, agility, willingness to learn and good communication skills, the PMET has been converted to a full time hiring and is working in the company for over a year now.

So far, the Career Support Group has already seen 13 out of 19 participants placed in jobs and internships within two months of their completion.

Manage your expectations

These people have shown that changing careers is not a quick race – it takes hard work, a willingness to learn, and mental resilience.

In addition to adopting an investment mindset in itself, mature PMETs should also temper their financial expectations.

For a non-tech person who moves into a tech role without a solid tech base, there will likely be a pay gap compared to their last non-tech job, May explained.

Man discussing work
Image Credit: iStock

However, if the employee performs well in his role, the salary could eventually “catch up.”

Potential job seekers who wish to move on to a career in technology should be prepared to invest the time and effort necessary to strengthen their technology base.

After all, we live in a digitized world where technology is constantly evolving – from artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, automation to cybersecurity.

Mature PMETs are expected to continue to have an insatiable appetite to modernize through the various initiatives or programs organized by various government institutions such as the Institute of Employment and Employability, IMDA and Workforce Singapore.

How TMCA Benefits PMETs and Mature Businesses

Dr Chong Yoke Sin of the Singapore Computer Society (SCS)
Dr Chong Yoke Sin / Image Credit: Singapore Computer Society (SCS)

“Mature PMETs are encouraged to switch to technology mid-career for better assurance of long-term employability,” said Dr Chong.

Thanks to their solid operational experience and their open-mindedness to acquire new skills, they will find themselves not giving up their old skills and experience, but complementing them with new technological skills that will take them further in the field. employability.

Dr Chong Yoke Sin, President of the Singapore Computer Society (SCS)

There is support for mature PMETs and companies wishing to train them through the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiative led by IMDA.

As part of the TeSA initiative, the TeSA Mid-Career Advance (TMCA) program further contributes to this by providing mature workers with technology-related jobs while they upgrade or requalify.

The program is open to citizens of Singapore who are at least 40 years old.

Mature PMETs will be assured of paid employment while being upgraded or retrained through structured on-the-job training on the ICT skills in demand.

Some of the benefits include monthly salaries, mentoring on projects, and the acquisition of specialist level skills.

Prospective tech employers should participate in the program, as it is a good way for them to help mid-career employees develop the technology skills needed to successfully transition to technology.

Mid-career employees have years of experience that will make them suitable mentors for younger employees.

Furthermore, a combination of mature PMETs and new workers will encourage a diversity of ideas in a company.

As the saying goes, old is gold. There is no doubt that these mature PMETs bring with them rich experience and can be an asset to any business.

To learn more about resources that can help older workers transition to mid-career technology positions, you can visit the IMDA website.

This article was written in collaboration with IMDA.

Featured Image Credit: iStock

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Jothi Venkat

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