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Matchmakers with a difference

The job of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) Joint Undergraduate Scholarship holders Jessica Tan and Gerald Tan is to “matchmake” Singaporeans with their dream careers.

Their work involves liaising with and meeting with the various ministries and governmental agencies.

Ms Tan, 24, a manager at SSG’s strategic planning division, first discovered her passion for workforce training while working at a learning and development consultancy after graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP).

This interest led her to find out more about the then Workforce Development Agency’s (WDA) work. She applied for the statutory board’s local undergraduate scholarship in her first year at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Last year, WDA was restructured and two new statutory boards were formed — SSG and WSG.

Both agencies offer the SSGWSG Joint Undergraduate Scholarship, which covers tuition and compulsory fees, maintenance allowance, hostel fees (where applicable), pre-studies allowance (once-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. Ms Tan says: “When I was in NP, our counsellors worked hard to guide us in our further education and career paths.

“As someone who took an un-conventional path in my tertiary education and early career, I hope my work provides Singaporeans with the freedom to pursue their passions, try new things or pick up new skills.”

She joined SSG in June last year. At the strategic planning division, her team drives corporate planning functions and aligns priorities and strategies to the training and skills development needs of Singapore’s workforce.

Just two months into her job, Ms Tan was tasked with helping to develop SSG’s new vision and mission statements, as a part of WDA’s large-scale restructuring project.

After her current posting, Ms Tan hopes to work directly with the people on the ground.

An enriching experience
Ms Tan holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences with honours (Highest Distinction) in Communications & New Media. She says the scholarship unlocked many opportunities for her at NUS.

Apart from living on campus and being active in campus societies and activities, she received sponsorship for her overseas exchange programme in Los Angeles, and enrolled in various international programmes offered by NUS.

She went on a study trip to Tehran, Iran, to learn about its culture, religion and literature. It was one of her most memorable experiences.

“The country was so beautiful, and the Iranians I met were very hospitable,” she says.

Knowing her future role at SSG also enabled her to zero in on modules relevant to the public sector or people development, such as organisational behaviour in the public sector, as well as leadership in a complex world.

WDA welcomed her into the fold even before she graduated. She was frequently invited to WDA events, such as town halls, launches and festivals. These allowed her to have a taste of the culture at the organisation, and also kept her updated on the many initiatives it was working on.

Meaningful roles 
Mr Tan, 33, an assistant centre manager at a WSG Career Centre, says: “Employment is such an important aspect of our society.

“Beyond financial support, it provides a sense of identity and purpose to individuals. Economically, it drives national growth.”

He applied for the scholarship after an internship with WDA in May 2008 and got it in his last semester at the Singapore Management University (SMU), where he was studying for a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management.

“I wanted to experience the public service before making a career choice. My internship with WDA was an eye opener, and it led me to decide this was the scholarship I wanted,” Mr Tan says.

He joined WDA the following year, and has had three job rotations within the organisation so far.

The team of 25 at the WSG Career Centre helps unemployed job seekers with job preparation and placements.

Mr Tan helps to review, design and develop career services to fit their needs. He completed his career development facilitator (CDF) certification in 2014, and is currently involved in a project to revamp the services provided at the career centre.

Says Mr Tan: “Every day, I am gratified whenever our centre succeeds in helping an unemployed person get a job. This reinforces my belief that the work I do is meaningful.”

Ms Tan agrees. She says: “I envision a future where our society will look beyond paper qualifications and embrace different definitions of success.”