A history teacher with a passion for singing

   “Focus” has often been taught as the secret to success. True enough, the concept of “T-shape skills” is widely accepted across most industries today. What exactly does “T-shape” mean? Well, the vertical stroke of the “T” refers to the in-depth specialisation of a skill which enables the individual to contribute to the creative process, while the horizontal stroke refers to the ability to collaborate across other disciplines. The T-shape skills concept applies whether you are a business management consultant, a bioengineer or an architect.

   Yet, in today’s rapidly changing, technologically driven landscape that is increasingly competitive, are T-shape skills really sufficient in ensuring long-term employment and job stability?

   To better prepare for the future where there will be more business and job opportunities but also more uncertainty in the global and Singapore’s own economy and job market, an alternative concept of Pi-shape skills -- having two deep skills instead of just one. This is where the idea of second skilling comes in: professionals, managers and executives (PMEs) are now looking into developing a second skill to future-proof and future-ready themselves. Second skilling will not only help PMEs stay relevant and employable, it also builds a stronger safety net for themselves and their families in times of market shifts where they may be affected.

   The best part is, the second skill could be anything that the individual is passionate about. It could be a hobby which he/she enjoys doing in his/her own spare time, outside of work. Second skilling is encouraged as an organic match between passion and skill. The new skill mastered might even lead to other full-time or freelance positions in the future.

   Take the example of NTUC member, Mr. Matthew Quek, a history teacher who became a certified vocal coach. For years Matthew has been very passionate about singing, and to take this interest further, he went on to pursue an Associate Diploma in Voice from Trinity College. This leap of faith has definitely opened up many new doors for Matthew, as he got invited to sing at various platforms to share his love for music – he even sang for VIPs like PM Lee Hsien Loong and DPM Teo Chee Hean. Matthew had also joined several singing competitions over the years, one of which was the 2012 World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA), where he represented Singapore and clinched a silver medal in the senior vocal category. To date, Matthew has produced a total of seven albums come July 2014.

   Matthew’s inspirational story of reaching for one’s dream through continual learning is the ultimate proof that there is great value in self-upgrading. But the bigger take-home message here is this: If Matthew can do it, so can you. Take a chance. Explore your options. Because, why not? And remember, it’s not all about what certificates or medals you achieve at the end of the day, but the precious life experiences you gain through the learning journey. So celebrate the spirit of lifelong learning with us – pick up a second-skill today.

--- Matthew will be having an official launch of his 7th album “Soul Companion” (comprising 11 original compositions) on 13 September at 3p.m. at “The Hood” @ Bugis Plus.










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