Living and working abroad has become increasingly popular. According to the United Nations, there were some 258 million international migrants worldwide in 2017 or 3.42% of the population. This is a nearly 50% increase from 2000. Those who lived away from home prefer Asia. Over 60% or 80 million chose the region.
With greater mobility and the ease with which businesses are going global, the number of those working overseas will only continue to rise. In fact, more than 7 in 10 Millennials expect and want an overseas assignment according to PwC’s talent mobility 2020 report.
LIT ASEAN Careers Programme
Understanding this drive, Young NTUC partnered Temasek Foundation to set up the LIT ASEAN Careers programme in support of recommendations of the Future Economy Council in 2017 to deepen and diversify the international connections of young working adults in Singapore. The aim is to grow and transform Singapore’s economy for the future. The initiative, launched on 5 October, matches 400 young people with 30 regional industry professionals from various fields who have worked in countries in Asia like Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
Over a four-month period, the youths will learn about the ASEAN landscape and what it is like to work in the region. They can also choose to be paired with a career guide with experience working in ASEAN. This will be especially helpful since ASEAN is set to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030, after the United States, China and the European Union.
Two of the career guides shared their perspectives on working in the region and how youths can better prepare themselves for the experience.
Working in ASEAN Prepares Youths for a Globalised World
Having pioneered and spearheaded a regional business unit of more than 25 SAP support consultants in Asia, and led a global cross-functional team, Head of DevOps, Cross Functions and Partnership at YCH Group, John Pock firmly believes in the gumption to venture beyond.
“As the economy continues to be increasingly globalised, working in ASEAN markets will equip our youths with regional experience, knowledge, skills, and empathy to be an effective and positive contributor to an ASEAN society which has a wonderfully diverse cultures and values,” he noted.
Asked which areas youths can move into, Mr Pock said, “Digital transformation roles and skills are in great demand as rising ASEAN super apps and innovations are disrupting traditional industries and business modus operandi.”
Deputy Director of Abundanz Consulting Pte Ltd Lim Tu An (pictured above) added, “The future of work is going to be tech-based. You need knowledge, skills or ability and your value proposition.
Experience won’t count for anything anymore. In fact, a longer singular experience makes employers more weary.”
Working in ASEAN as a Stepping Stone
A career guide since Young NTUC launched Youth Career Network in 2017, Mr Lim shared another reason why ASEAN is a perfect destination for Singapore’s young workers.
“If you have never worked beyond Singapore, ASEAN is a good place to start. It is just an hour away,” he said.
“If you can survive ASEAN, then you can survive Asia, then you can survive the world. ASEAN is a stepping stone.”
Self-knowledge is Vital for Career Planning
Mr Lim should know what he is talking about. He has more than a decade of experience in career guidance and development. An accredited Certified Career Services Provider™ (CCSP) with the National Career Development Association (NCDA) and a certified Job, Career Transition and Development Coach, Mr Lim shares progressive career development practices with career consultants in regional universities in West Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei.
Offering a vital piece of advice to young workers, Mr Lim said, “You need to know yourself, then you can look at the job market and know how to put your value proposition across to the employers. You can’t change the world. You have to fit the world.
But if you don’t know yourself, you can’t make informed decisions and that leads to lower satisfaction.”
This is where career guides come in. They help individuals in their introspective journey as they discover what it is they want.
Mr Pock agreed, “[Career guides] offer new perspectives and alternatives which help them realise plausible options, point out blind spots and potential pitfalls or risks which they can then circumvent and mitigate accordingly.”
How Young Workers Can Meet Challenges Ahead
The future for workers presents several challenges.
“Trade tensions amongst countries and geopolitical situations are the greatest challenges as economic growth will be impacted greatly but therein lies the greatest opportunities for them to capitalise,” said Mr Pock.
To stay ahead, he advised, “Keep abreast of current affairs and technology trends, acquire financial savviness, hone soft skills such as presentation and stakeholders’ engagements. Be adaptable, mobile and resilient. Last but not least, be humble and empathetic.”
Mr Lim added, “Trailblazers are those who are confident, introspective and know exactly what they want.”
One way of discovering what they want is through internships which he calls a “stepping stone to any new employment”. Internship need not only be for fresh graduates. Mature workers can use it as a way to break into new industries as well.
Another way to future-proof themselves is by being domain specialists and subject matter experts in a chosen field.
“You need to know the future of your work and how you can move upstream,” said Mr Lim.
“For example, accountants may find themselves sidelined by automation. Pick up a new skill to offer with your accounting services. Develop an accounting app, for example.”
Then, when they have made their mark, Mr Pock had a challenge for young workers, “I hope they, too, will pay it forward as the next Career Mentors.”