Monday, March 09, 2009

Re-Skilling, Right-Skilling, Multi-Skilling to avoid Killing the Future

The Malaysia's stimulus mini-budget is to be announced on Tuesday to ride on the current downturn. Obviously, 2009 is still uncertain as we speak and the gloomy outlook looks like to be prevailing into 2010.
Most developed countries are already in recession and the third tsunami wave is now reaching the third world countries. Job losses are reaching new level heights all over the world, even in the UAE with the retrenchments are still on going across the industries.

All over the planet, governments have taken unprecedented steps to stimulate their economies and recapitalise ailing financial institutions through bail-outs etc.

The main concern is to save jobs by re-skilling or some coin it as the right-skilling.

In Singapore, a “job credit” scheme was introduced as an option to preserve jobs as much as possible during downturn. Every employer will be provided with a cash grant to reduce their cost of employing Singaporean workers. This costs the government about S$4.5bil.

It is a temporary measure to help companies through the crisis and the Singaporean government has chosen this path over the granting of corporate tax rebates. The rational of this approach is that businesses should not cut jobs to save costs but reduce costs to save jobs. The government has also introduced so-called a cash top-up for low-income workers.

To encourage re-skilling, measures have been taken to step up training across all levels of the workforce by doubling the number of courses run by certain Singaporean government institutions and increasing course subsidies.

Here across the Gulf, amid the gloomy days and the relentless downsizing of firms, it's refreshing to see one of the region's larger companies adopt a novel approach to its restructuring efforts - and one that could reap considerable benefits in terms of team commitment.

According to Arabian Business:
Sorouh Real Estate, Abu Dhabi's second-largest property developer, has been hit hard by the real estate crash and the resultant slump in demand for new units. Rather than slash jobs, however, the firm last week revealed that it plans to retrain its engineers to work in customer service roles, in a bid to prevent redundancies.

The initiative, termed "right skilling" by Sorouh, will no doubt be viewed with suspicion by engineers more at ease on the building site than in the showhome.

However, with the region's property sector listing badly and engineering positions scarce in other markets too, the majority will soon embrace the opportunity to further develop - and diversify - their skillset. In these tight times, you can never have too many strings to your bow.

Provided Sorouh can keep its engineers awake as they are retrained in the dark arts of mortgage application assistance and call centre etiquette, then the firm will rightly be hailed as an excellent example to others. Rather than slashing training to cut costs, they are developing the skills of their workforce and should emerge fitter for it.

Those employees that accept retraining will appreciate that Sorouh chose not to swing the axe, while all around them others were losing their heads. That knowledge should be enough to instill an enhanced loyalty to their employer, and to generate an extra 10 percent from each staff member during a period when a strong sense of collective responsibility could make a difference to the futures of many Gulf firms.

Let us be under no illusions: Sorouh is operating in one of the hardest-hit sectors in the region. ‘Right skilling' is not a catch-all solution and will not boost the developer's bottom line. However, with the right moves at the right time, and a leadership prepared to educate employees rather than just boot them off the payroll, it might just come out stronger on the other side.
In my own experience, I am proud to say that I am a MULTI-SKILLED professional. With my computer science degree, I have morphed myself into different set of skills, telecommunication, design of utility and infrastructure, construction works, business strategy, business development, management, project management and satellite communication...to mention a few.

Well, Jack of all trades, master of none. And plenty of fun along the way.

And I am also a creative writer.....with a new short story anthology and novel to be published soon, inshaAllah!

Back to the RM35 billion stimulus package, one of the most important areas to be considered, I guess and hope, will be ensuring employment and re-employment of the rakyat. These measures include providing grants to local businesses, giving tax incentives, such as by way of enhanced deductions.
These steps may serve as impetus for companies to keep in check the unemployment levels and survive the current stormy ride into the future.

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