How To Gain More Skills To Adapt In A Changing World
Whether it’s baking bread, learning French or practising yoga, many of us have come out of the circuit breaker period with new skills and interests. Thankfully, there are no lack of opportunities, with the proliferation of online learning platforms touching on everything from the art of home cooking to managing your mental health during Covid-19, filled with content to suit varying thirsts for knowledge. You can even structure your learning, work at your own pace and choose your instructors.
If, say, you decide that those blurry images of your little ones taken with your smartphone camera don’t cut it anymore, then get some direction from celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz on Masterclass. Thereafter, learn the fundamentals of photo editing on Skillshare and then get behind photography’s role in our increasingly visual culture through the collection of the Museum of Modern Art on Coursera.
But more than just self-improvement, there are also platforms that cover numerous aspects of professional development such as leadership and business strategy, with the best minds and industry practitioners sharing their expertise and even mentorship opportunities. These communities of learning might just be one of the workforce strategies to Covid-19 recovery. The pursuit of knowledge is eternal, and research has shown that those who engage in lifelong learning enjoy increased well-being and resilience in coping with adversity.
The minds behind three Singapore-based personal and professional development platforms reveal how they are changing the face of education.
When serial entrepreneurs Fei Yao and Will Fan first founded education start-up NewCampus in 2015, they wanted to equip modern working professionals with the skills and knowledge to future-proof themselves in a rapidly changing world. And they do this through a mix of online and offline workshops, masterclasses and conferences held at one of the company’s co-learning campus locations at WeWork in Suntec City.
That mission has taken on new meaning since the coronavirus pandemic. “There are scarily large numbers of people being let go globally right now, due to industries or roles that cannot be sustained. But those who have been retained tend to have transferable skills, and they are coming up with new ideas and building organisations to adapt to this challenging time,” observes Yao, who handles corporate strategy, while Fan is the CEO.
To help equip its members with the skills required to overcome these tough times, NewCampus has brought together industry leaders, influencers and game-changers from around the world to engage in relevant topics such as resilient leadership, future of remote work, and innovation in a pandemic, among others. Most recently, Paypal senior director of innovation, Michael Todasco, discussed how to build a culture of innovation over a lunchtime group mentoring session on Zoom. Part of a Power Lunch Hour series, each hour-long session is capped at 15 people so participants can ask questions and get instantaneous feedback. Meanwhile, in a two-hour virtual conference, Adobe director of international design, Lance Shields, touched upon the process of product creation in today’s disrupted climate.
In an effort to reinforce the notion of borderless learning, NewCampus is now fully online to allow its members control over their lesson timelines, while being inducted into a community of supportive professionals. Members will also be assigned a personalised growth concierge tailored to their own goals. The platform has seen nearly 600 new sign-ups globally.
“Post-Covid, we want people and companies to continue to seek to understand new ideas, embrace rapid experimentation, and build resilience as we go on to tackle other 21st-century challenges,” shares Yao. An avid learner herself, she started learning Spanish on language education platform Duolingo, while Fan has been challenging himself to master yoga poses with videos on YouTube.
In a time of social distancing, what’s a social club like Crane to do? Like most businesses, the year-old community for lifelong learning targeted at working adults and mature professionals has had to move to the digital space. But what’s different: much of its content, anchored in sustainability, mindfulness and skills-sharing, is created by its community, with members offering their experience and expertise.
Founder and CEO Federico Folcia explains, “Our community itself participates in content creation—that’s how we engage with them, ensuring what we create is relatable.” This will be reflected in its digital extension, Crane Live, when it launches this month. The open platform allows creators, who have something meaningful or a passion to share, to connect with an audience through four areas: an uploadable document, pre-recorded video, interactive video session via Zoom or Skype, or an in-person meet-up at the club or anywhere else, social distancing measures permitting.
Pre-Covid, Crane hosted a full calendar of interest-based content focused on self-care, self-discovery, and active mind and body at its space (pictured above), which also includes areas for co-working and events, at the former Nan Chiau Girls’ High School building on Kim Yam Road.
“Post-Covid, people will become more mindful and we want to help them develop skills to go through a phase like this. Crane Live offers the possibility of reaching out to more people, helping them understand what the Crane club is about, a space to help people with the tools to stay relevant and socially engaged as we age,” expounds Folcia, who was behind the now-defunct Roomorama, an online platform for short-term rentals.
Upcoming content on Crane Live includes classes on mindfulness for self-healing by meditator Michelle Ayn Tessensohn and living for your health and the planet’s with agricultural activist Manda Foo, founder of Bollywood Adventures. As Crane’s ethos indicates: there’s is no end to personal progress.
University doesn’t prepare us for our careers—and that is the harsh truth, according to Nellie Wartoft (pictured above), founder and CEO of microlearning platform Tigerhall. “Professionals themselves have to bridge the skill gaps between credentialing universities and the know-how required in an organisation.” During her stint leading sales and marketing at global recruitment firm Page Group, Wartoft noticed stark gaps, particularly in soft skills, among jobseekers fresh out of university.
This was the seed that planted the idea for Tigerhall, which is a knowledge-sharing application that helps professionals learn directly from Asia’s most successful business leaders. Dubbed “thinkfluencers”, coined from the words “thought leader” and “influencer”, this 550-strong assembly includes leading global strategy adviser and FutureMap founder Parag Khanna, and former AirAsia executive Kathleen Tan.
Depending on their goals, whether they want to be a better leader or grow their business, members can access bite-sized content such as podcasts with thinkfluencers sharing Asia-specific insights, which are accompanied by concise power reads, with takeaways they can action upon immediately. There are also in-person workshops and networking events, as well as opportunities for private dinners and drinks, or group mentoring sessions.
As the education industry continues to evolve, the Singapore-based start‑up, which recently expanded into Malaysia, wants to work with businesses to engage employees through more dynamic learning and development initiatives. “Our efforts are focused on providing all professionals in Asia—regardless of their background and circumstances—access to success,” enthuses Wartoft.
“I believe traditional learning platforms will cease to exist in the next three to five years. A one-size-fits-all video platform approach does not work, and employees can’t afford to dedicate time to learning programmes that are irrelevant and dry.”
Here are three more platforms to check out
Through a global network of women entrepreneurs, this community-driven platform, which recently launched its first Asian chapter in Singapore, offers female business owners access to valuable resources such as curated events and a dedicated business school. There is also a Founders Club made up of industry professionals supporting members in achieving their career goals.
Designed for adult learners-on-the-go, this Singapore-based mobile-first learning and engagement platform is a repository of microlearning courses covering topics such as business leadership and management as well as health and wellness curated by academics and industry experts. Knowledge acquisition follows a four-step process—know, think, apply and share—for behaviour change that delivers business impact.
Created as an foundational tool to equip youths from ages 13 to 24 in navigating their own entrepreneurial journeys, this education start-up based in Singapore has taken its signature two-day boot camp, EntreCamp, online to engage with students from pre-tertiary and higher education institutions.