Create skills in the workplace by developing key skills

A recent Singapore Institute of Technology workshop sheds light on what constitutes competence in the workplace and how to develop essential foundation skills.

Kasinathan Parhiban, 45, a senior railway engineer at SMRT Trains, will fulfill his dream of earning an undergraduate degree through the competency-based work-based learning pathway introduced by SIT last year.


Job competence is a key requirement for job performance and is made up of three key areas, said Professor Stephen Billet, from the School of Career Education and Studies at Griffith University, Australia.

These include canonical professional knowledge, or the knowledge required to practice the trade; and situational requirementsthat is, the circumstances of work practice in which job demands manifest themselves and judgments are made about performance.

Organization of a workshop during the recent Applied Learning Conference 2022 organized by the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), Professor Billet said: “These areas include the acquisition of qualities of expertise as a key objective and the ability to respond productively to solving non-routine problems in the circumstances of practice.

The third area of ​​workplace competence is personal area of ​​knowledge. It is, Professor Billet explained, the knowledge that individuals construct and use, or the conceptual, procedural and dispositional knowledge that underpins effective job performance.

He continued, “Here, individuals construct a person-specific area of ​​professional knowledge from their experience. They shape what they know, can do and enjoy. This learning comes from experiences in educational institutions, workplaces, and wherever they engage in professional activities and interactions. Thus, in some respects, the domains of knowledge that individuals construct are unique to the person.

Professor Billet also identified how aspects of this area are referred to by SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) as Critical Core Skills (CCS). Launched by SSG in August 2020, the CCS framework includes a total of 16 skills grouped into three groups of skills that workplaces deem most essential.

think critically: Creative thinking, decision making, problem solving, search for meaning and transdisciplinary thinking.

Interact with others: Building inclusiveness, collaboration, communication, customer focus, people development and influence.

Stay relevant: Adaptability, Numerical fluidity, Global perspective, Learning agility and Self-management.

“SSG’s Core Competencies provide examples of the qualities needed for these personal areas. They are also relevant to the levels of professional and specific practice that individuals need to learn from,” said Professor Billet.

Chelvin Loh, Director of Jobs-Skills Insights Division at SSG, also spoke at the workshop, which shared the ITS journey of the Holistic Soft Skills Examination in 2019, leading to the launch of the CCS framework in 2020.

“Soft skills are essential and serve as a foundation for developing new skills,” she added, while highlighting how soft skills are among the priority skills identified in SSG’s inaugural demand report. of skills for the future economy, published last year.

“The transformation and speed of change taking place in today’s world means that skills such as learning agility, finding meaning and adaptability are becoming increasingly important. are expected of all positions in every workplace and can be considered the most fundamental skills and competencies for success in working life,” she stressed.

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“Soft skills are essential and serve as the foundation for developing new skills…The transformation and speed of change happening in the world today means that skills such as learning agility, research meaning and adaptability are becoming more and more important.” – Chelvin Loh, SkillsFuture Singapore.

Arthur Poh, Director of the National Center of Excellence for Work-Based Learning at SIT, further explained the CCS framework by highlighting a recent survey conducted by [email protected] The study found that employees highlighted communication, problem solving and learning agility as key skills essential to responding to the speed of change in today’s world. These findings, Poh said, were important because they shaped how universities like SIT prepare learners for the challenges ahead.

As countries and organizations seek to develop the skills and maintain the capabilities of their workforce, Professor Billet said there should be no separation between work participation and learning.

Workplace learning occurs when employees are directly engaged in work tasks, when they observe and imitate what their colleagues are doing, when they practice, rehearse, perfect and associate in a work environment , and when closely guided by colleagues or experts. .

Drawing on data provided by the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIACC), Professor Billet concluded: “Workers in Singapore report having learned through their work and through a combination of their commitment and advice from others. People respond to challenges locally, so engage and urge learners into the process of reflection and action, and through this you can understand their readiness and expand their area of ​​potential development.

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“People respond to challenges locally, so engage and urge learners into the process of reflection and action, and through this you can understand their readiness and expand their area of ​​potential development.” – Professor Stephen Billet.

“To develop skills in the workplace, there must be a link between gaps in workplace training and learning. Teaching theory alone without the context of workplace challenges will become less and less popular. When we talk about adult learning and competency-based education, we need to change the training paradigm by looking at business needs and putting organizational needs at the heart of training,” said Poh. , who shared the journey of SIT in the workplace. learning in the workshop.

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“Developing professional skills, there must be a link between workplace training gaps and learning. Teaching theories on their own without the context of workplace challenges will become less and less popular. – Arthur Poh, Singapore Institute of Technology.

Last year, SIT piloted a new Competency-Based Workplace Learning Path which offers adult learners, regardless of their starting qualifications, a way to improve their skills and earn a degree while working – the first of its kind in Singapore.

MOUs have been signed with leading industry partners such as Ensign InfoSecurity and SMRT Corporation to upskill their workforce to meet changing industry needs and achieve better alignment between academic achievement and job performance.

As part of this path, adult learners will be able to acquire skills and obtain recognition of skills in the workplace. They will also be evaluated based on their displayed skills.

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