Here’s Why You Need to Upskill

Want to remain relevant in the workforce? Diversifying your skillsets could help your career.

By Workforce Singapore        24 February 2021

Upskilling is not a new buzzword. With the world economy undergoing a digital transformation, we’ve seen how some traditional jobs have modified, while others have disappeared or been replaced.

A 2017 report by McKinsey predicted that 14% of workers would have to change jobs or pick up new skills by 2030 in order to remain relevant. This is because 30% of work activities may be replaced by automation by then. So while jobs that existed before may not be around anymore, new jobs are also being created almost on a daily basis.

This need to upskill has since been accelerated by the recent global pandemic. Businesses and individuals had to quickly adapt to new levels of digitisation.

So why is it important to diversify your skills?

It’s the same reason why we diversify our investment portfolios — we need to increase our skillsets to hedge against events that we have no control over.

And on the contrary, being a jack of all trades doesn’t mean you’re a master of none. Having more skills in your pocket means you can pivot quickly when the need calls for it, as well as improve work performance. You’re able to draw connections from different disciplines to solve issues.

Says Professor Tan Eng Chye from the National University of Singapore: “The rapid pace of change in many industries means that the old model of intense academic specialisation will no longer work for our young adults.”

Which is why the university is making plans to set up a College of Humanities and Sciences to provide a broad-based and interdisciplinary education. “Graduates into the workforce will need breadth of knowledge, depth, as well as the ability to integrate multiple disciplines to solve complex problems.”

How can you expand your skills?

First, before you can add to your bag of skills, do a stocktake of your abilities. Figure out your career interests and priorities, then chart your career goals. You can then begin identifying a skill in a domain unrelated to your existing skills.

Consider taking up skills that are currently in demand and matches your interests. These could help ensure you are able to adapt quickly to changes brought about by ever-evolving market conditions.

A great place to start would be by checking out the available courses under MySkillsFuture, where you can put your Skillsfuture Credits to good use. Other platforms to consider include LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, NTUC LearningHub or Coursera. After completing a course, highlight your achievements in your resume and LinkedIn profile.

What skills should you take up?

Ultimately, what’s important is that you’re upskilling in areas that you find enjoyable and motivated. This will help you find more fulfilment and increase your desire to contribute to your organisation. But if you’re not sure what to work on, consider the following areas:

1. Digital

As we’re in the age of digital transformation, it’s no surprise digital skills are the highest trending hard skills of 2020. Big data analytics, for example, could help businesses get better insights into customer demands and identify opportunities to innovate. So consider training up your digital muscles, as it could be the factor that gives you the edge over another candidate for the job.

2. Soft skills

While having technical skills are important, soft skills only make them more effective. These include communication, interpersonal, customer service, leadership and business etiquette, to name a few.

The pandemic has caused the market to change rapidly. Instead of waiting for the right time, take the chance to reflect, reboot and reinvent so you’ll be prepared for the new normal.

If you are looking for more career guidance, register your interest to see a Workforce Singapore career coach and we’ll be in touch.

SAFRA members can also apply for the Bond Free Education Scheme, which aims to provide opportunities for SAFRA members to upgrade themselves educationally. The Scheme works in partnership with various renowned institutions to offer Diploma, Degree and Master courses to SAFRA members. Click here to find out more.

Have you tried to upskill? Share your experience with us at

Total Defence Day falls on 15 February. Economic Defence – one of the 6 pillars of Total Defence – is about strengthening the competitiveness and attractiveness of Singapore’s economy so that we remain relevant to the world. Economic Defence is also about keeping our economy strong and resilient, enabling it to carry on and recover quickly should we be confronted by any challenge or crisis in the future.