Age is no barrier to lifelong learning

Lifelong learning leads to new pathways, and sometimes, new careers. Hear from three continuing education graduates about how they pivoted from their previous roles and found a future in Fintech through the SGUS Fintech programme.

Famed French music composer Michel Legrand once said, “The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realise, the less I know.” These words ring true in today’s ever-changing world, where skills learnt in the past need to be upgraded to remain relevant in the future.

One such programme to keep the flame of lifelong learning burning is the NUS SGUnited Skills (SGUS) Programme in International Financial Technology (Fintech) for non-technical executives. Offered by the NUS School of Continuing and Lifelong Education (NUS SCALE) and taught by Fintech experts from NUS Computing, the programme caters to mid-career jobseekers affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19, and trains students to gain deep skills in the burgeoning Fintech sector.

Students learn about contemporary issues in the Fintech space: from the integration of financial domain know-how (lending, payments, insurance, regulation and management) to the technology itself (front-end and back-end development, cloud systems, blockchain, payment algorithmic trading).

“With more businesses moving into the digital world, the future of Fintech is growing. There’s something for everyone and anyone who wants to be ready for the next new wave of technology,” said Associate Professor Keith Carter from NUS Computing, who is the Programme Director of the SGUS Fintech Programme.

After graduation, students can take on the roles of data analyst, full-stack developer and project manager, among others.

The SGUS Fintech Programme saw its first batch of trainees on 21 September 2020. To date, the Fintech Programme has welcomed 284 trainees. Six batches have completed the Programme while three batches are still in training.

Ms Naweera Sidik was an architect who became a user experience (UX) designer. Having already had a portfolio of UI/UX work to impress potential employers, she nevertheless signed up for the SGUS Fintech programme to not only improve her skills and knowledge as a UI/UX designer but also acquire new technical skills.

Ms Naweera, who is in her mid-30s, received the Best Lifelong Learner Award at the end-of-programme celebration, which is awarded based on three criteria: excellence and positive attitude in learning, strong friendship to peers and active participation in wellbeing and career activities.

“Taking the Fintech course allowed me to gain the technical skills that were necessary to pivot to my new role as a UX designer. From design thinking to coding, I was able to apply the breadth of topics that I learnt from my course, to the current work that I do,” Ms Naweera said.

She currently co-manages a digital marketing company, Sprout Work Pte Ltd, and is also a mentor to one of the project groups in the current SGUS International Fintech programme.

Meanwhile, age is not a barrier for Lim Chye Joo, who at 61 is among the oldest students in the SGUS International Fintech programme. Even though he had a non-technical background in the trading of automotive and industrial equipment, he clinched the Award for Adaptability and Resilience at the end of the programme.

His instructors and peers have held him up as a good example of a lifelong learner. “Never fails to surprise us with the quality of his work and perseverance”, “Never lets age be a reason for not being able to pick things up fast enough” and “Has a never-say-die attitude that enables him to overcome challenges in his stride” were some of the accolades he garnered from programme instructors and peers.

Mr Lim said, “It is great to learn new things, especially technology. It helps to create new opportunities and keeps you mentally youthful!” He is currently building a startup company, and is also a mentor to one of the project groups in the current SGUS International Fintech programme.

Trained as an accountant, 35-year-old Mr Edward Joesoef developed an interest in coding when he was tasked to develop a website in his past employment. After leaving his job in accounting in October 2020, he took the opportunity to switch to a technical role and took up the SGUS International Fintech programme to deepen his skills in Fintech.

Mr Joesoef said the programme not only broadened his knowledge and skills in Fintech, blockchain, algorithmic trading, programming and data analysis, it also reaffirmed his interest in technical roles.

The four-month-long final project provided Mr Joesoef a good opportunity to gain experience in programming and data analysis. Taking the advice from his NUS career advisor that he needed more experience and showcase his skills, Mr Joesoef built up more experience with his personal projects and posted all his projects on software repository Github. Together with assistance from the NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates in repositioning himself, he successfully made the career switch to become a data analyst in the Fintech sector.

“The programme is an eye-opener that shows us various pathway into the Fintech industry, and I am grateful for having gone through it,” said Mr Joesoef.