Better late than never

If you did not sign up for a scholarship at the start of your university studies, it is still not too late to do so.

SkillsFuture Singapore and Workforce Singapore (SSG-WSG) Joint Undergraduate Scholarship holders Ng Xin Yi and Nathan Ong both applied for the then Workforce Development Agency (WDA) Undergraduate Scholarship midway through their studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The SSG-WSG Joint Undergraduate Scholarship was established last year after WDA underwent restructuring and was reconstituted into the two organisations.

The scholarship covers tuition and compulsory fees, maintenance allowance, hostel fees (where applicable), pre-studies allowance (one-off for full-term scholars) and sponsorship for approved student exchange programmes.

The bond period is up to four years for full-term scholars and up to three years for mid-term scholars.

A meaningful role

Ms Ng was invited to apply for the scholarship after an internship at WDA.

The NUS undergraduate was in Year 3 of her four-year Bachelor of Social Sciences (Major in Political Science) programme.

As part of her internship, Ms Ng engaged companies and other stakeholders to understand industry manpower needs. She also supported the development and validation of the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ), a national credentialing system.

“During the internship, I started to appreciate WDA’s unique and meaningful role in championing workforce development. The organisation’s vision and mission appealed to me, as I could identify with the positive impact of its work,” she says.

Upon graduation, Ms Ng, 31, joined WDA in 2008, and has risen through the ranks to become a senior manager at SSG.

During her eight years in SSG, Ms Ng has had a few job rotations across a range of functions, including industry engagement, policy formulation, accreditation of training providers and skillsbased programmes, and implementation of the national certification.

The rotations have enabled her to gain skills, perspective and experience in the value chain of workforce development.

Ms Ng also participated in and led cross-divisional project teams, which honed her leadership and interpersonal skills beyond her immediate scope of work.

A highlight of her career has been supporting the SkillsFuture movement, which was launched last year.

She says: “SkillsFuture marks a milestone in a national call to learn for life and achieve skills mastery.

“It was exciting and fulfilling to work with colleagues to articulate and roll out the SkillsFuture concept, develop and finetune policies and guidelines to support development.

“Our work led to the publication of the first few skills frameworks on the SkillsFuture movement portal.”

People oriented

Like Ms Ng, Mr Ong became interested in public service work while undergoing an internship during his four-year Bachelor of Social Sciences in Political Science programme.

He decided to sign up for the WDA scholarship at the NUS Career Fair.

As a scholar, Mr Ong had several developmental opportunities, including an internship stint, projects and inclusion in WDA events.

He joined WDA in 2014, and is currently a manager in the Social Service team under the Enterprise Development Group at WSG.

As an industry engagement officer, he develops the manpower and training capabilities of the social service sector.

His work involves encouraging social service organisations to adopt WSG programmes and initiatives. He also tries to understand their manpower and training needs, so that WSG can improve its existing offerings and address gaps in the sector.

“As I enjoy meeting people and making a difference in their lives, my current role is well suited to my strengths. This has helped me to excel in my work,” Mr Ong says.

His team is also working closely with SSG to promote the understanding of SkillsFuture initiatives as well as to develop the Industry Manpower Plan and SkillsFuture Framework for the sector.

One issue the social services sector faces is a lack of manpower.

To complement the existing Professional Conversion Pro gramme (PCP) for Social Workers, WSG intends to roll out more PCPs to encourage mid-careerists to join the sector.

Mr Ong, 27, would like to take on more job roles and portfolios before deciding on his area of specialisation.

Now into his second posting since joining WSG two years ago, Mr Ong thinks that his portfolio and job rotations have helped to expedite his learning process and Promake his job more dynamic.

He also hopes to take on leadership positions as he prepares to lead his own team.

He says: “I am convinced that a person’s career and livelihood are integral parts of their identity as it enables one to live with dignity and the knowledge that he or she is self-sufficient.

“WSG’s mandate empowered me to be involved in this meaningful endeavour.”