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How to deepen employees' expertise

The mission: Transform Singapore's economy with bold and disruptive changes that will keep jobs and income growth going for most workers.

But for that economic level-up to happen, people must retool with new skills and deepen their capabilities.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam made these comments in an interview with NTUC This Week, the labour movement's publication.

He also noted: "Companies have to take more responsibility. We still don't have a widespread management culture in Singapore of wanting to invest in developing each and every individual in the team."

Labour leaders from ManpowerGroup are singing the same tune.

Mr Jonas Prising, its chairman and chief executive officer, said: "Helping people upskill and adapt to a fast-changing world of work will be the defining challenge of our time."

Leaders, he added, should increase their employees' resilience to adapt to change and to cultivate the ability to learn new skills.

Here is how:

Identify skills that align to strategic priorities

Identify competencies required to meet your organisation's strategic priorities for the next one year to three years. That is, what it takes to drive business performance.

Use competency models for key groups of jobs and levels or tap ready-made models.

Prioritise resilience and openness to change

Companies should focus its skills training on mission-critical roles - those that will make the biggest impact on how it achieves its strategic goals. Also, observe people who welcome change and those who don't.

The first group is resilient - individuals more likely to accept the need to change, build skills, and jump back in and tackle a problem that does not get resolved on the first try.

Companies can use personality assessments and other psychometric instruments to size up their employees. Or hire a talent recruitment company to do so.

Give weight to "fluid intelligence"

Some individuals can perform tasks that require logical thinking, even without having the prior skills or knowledge. This is known as "fluid intelligence".

Despite your company's plans to develop critical skills in key people, the unforeseen will happen. Having staff adept at handling unplanned situations is an advantage.

This article was contributed by Right Management (www.rightmanagement.sg), the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm ManpowerGroup.

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