Each month, the British Chamber asks for member company comments on a specific topic, for publication in the Orient magazine. Comments below may be re-published only with the Chamber's consent and quotation. Contact with any questions. 

Opportunities for education and lifelong learning are thriving in Singapore, as they are in the UK. If you are you a service provider in these sectors, what are the key trends, challenges and opportunities for you this year? What can the two countries learn from each other to provide a well-rounded education for students of all ages?


Professor Matt Bentley, CEO & Dean, Newcastle University in Singapore

Singapore and the UK share many of the great societal challenges, particularly in ageing, sustainable transport and cybersecurity. At the same time, Newcastle University is recognised for excellence in these fields and hosts the UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) and the National Innovation Centre for Data (NICD) in a state-of-the-art building ‘the Helix’ on Newcastle’s campus. In Singapore, Newcastle University, through the Newcastle Research & Innovation Institute (NewRIIS), provides a suite of postgraduate courses, including in Energy and Sustainability, Marine Technology, and Process Safety and Risk Management, whilst access to world-class expertise in Newcastle and in Singapore facilitates the provision of state of the art CPD and lifelong learning. Tailored specifically to meet the needs of Singapore, these include Liquified Natural Gas and Gas Development, Smart Grids and Data Visualisation: Tools and Techniques and illustrate perfectly how we are able to respond to the need for upskilling the Singaporean workforce.


Frank Butler, Managing Director, Bounga Informatics Pte Ltd

Training is a vital need – would you buy a car and take it on the road without learning to drive? Digital forensics training is some of the most volatile you will encounter.  This is a relatively new but burgeoning industry.  Every single aspect of our lives today is touched by material we maintain digitally on a plethora of devices, loss of or breach of this data can be crippling. Vendor training in this arena comfortably co-exists with vendor neutral training. The crucial points in deciding what to include in your training vendor specific “wish list” should be its relevance and how up to date it is.  Vendor neutral training is a bit trickier as the latest tool based training needs to be built on a solid basics foundation deciding what these foundations are can be difficult.


Securewest International Ltd

In the UK it is widely recognised that travel is an essential element of self-development and education. Similarly in Singapore more educational establishments are following this approach with students travelling overseas as part of immersive learning programmes. The rise in student group travel year on year across the education sector now presents a number of challenges in understanding where students are and the potential risks they might encounter. The risks of visiting regions of conflict or natural disaster and the threats of targeted attacks and terrorism are increasingly unpredictable. While most trips are usually incident free, it’s still important to put the necessary measures in place to protect staff, students, organisations and reputations. In our experience, UK Universities have taken steps to ensure they fully understand their responsibility under duty of care legislation. This goes beyond just relying on insurance to mitigate any travel risks. The perceived “Security Bubble” in Singapore has for a number of years developed a culture where travel risk isn’t as high of a priority.


Rupert Macey, Managing Director (Asia), UpSkill People

With changes in the way people work, it’s more evident than ever that companies need to invest in their people to both retain them and keep them engaged. A combination of a younger workforce and advancements in technology means the way people develop their teams has become outdated. Technology and new ways of working, such as millennial habits, become mainstream quickly. Even more so when they’re effective. But how are Asian companies approaching their management development? It seems to be lower down the agenda than it should be?


We’ve created a ground-breaking documentary-style online series that gives management development a long overdue invitation into the 21st century. We’ve focused on measuring the effects, and the results for our UK clients have taken us by surprise. We’re now starting to see the same positive effects in the Asian market.


Dr Paresh Kathrani, Director of Education & Training, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb)

One of the core elements of education is naturally ‘knowledge’. Now that information is everywhere, the means of acquiring knowledge and mastery is naturally changing. Experiential and practical learning is becoming even more important. It’s not just about learning by reading, but learning by doing. Even the applied opportunities afforded by a combination of online and face to face learning can be beneficial for students. Hands on activities are also crucial. It’s important that training courses blend in practical exercises and opportunities for students. Collaboration can be good too. Encouraging students to work together can provide great opportunities to embed and develop knowledge. Emodules are also growing in popularity because their provide a good opportunity for learning by doing. Emodules is something that we will be expanding into in the future.


Graham Silverthorne, Head, UWCSEA East

Online learning is both an opportunity and a challenge for educational establishments. Certainly, it can no longer be the truth that a teacher is a gatekeeper of knowledge - but good teaching has never been about simply filling the pail, it has always been about lighting the fires. And that is the essential challenge of online provision. As technology becomes more sophisticated and more interactive, there are great opportunities for learners to augment, sometimes even replace, traditional classrooms lessons. But we are all familiar with the current narrative around 'soft' skills which are increasingly becoming understood to be 'essential' skills - these skills are much harder to learn through any online application. One cannot learn communication skills working alone with a pair of headphones on. So the advancing technology is a long way away from replacing what happens in learning communities. Our challenge is to take the best of what is available, think about personalising, enabling and diversifying - without ever compromising on our belief that relationships and emotional connection have always been, and will always be, at the heart of deep understanding.


John Bittleston, Founder & Mentor, Terrific Mentors International Pte Ltd

Mentoring, coaching and training are all flourishing as companies recognise the need to upskill and change. It is becoming clear to clients that digitisation and artificial intelligence require people to have an even bigger reskilling in soft skills than in technology which increasingly is skilling itself. Britain still has creative abilities above most other countries. Singapore is modifying its disciplinarian rigour to allow for more experimenting. If I had the power, I would swop a whole cohort of NUS or SMU students for one term with a similar cohort from Cambridge or Oxford. The results would be profound. Interdependence is being recognised as the only basis for a world required to change at the pace we now are. Technology and its fallout is demanding speeds ten thousand times what was required ten years ago. Only bold moves like the one I suggest will see us safely through the next decade.


Reuter Chua, Country Head, ACCA Singapore

Digital is the biggest factor that is disrupting traditional businesses and impacting the way business information and trade exchanges take place. Possessing the awareness and conceptual knowledge of emerging digital technology is just touching the tip of the ice-berg. The important next step is to have clarity of the right digital strategy and technical solutions to adopt and knowing how to operationalise them at the workplace.


The key challenge faced by organisations is changing the mindset of workers and helping them to understand that technological changes are here to stay, hence it is important to embrace the change, and pick up digital skills that will better prepare them for Industry 4.0. We see opportunities in helping our accounting professionals upskill through the organisation of workshops focusing on emerging technology and supporting their training with practical cases relating to accounting and finance. Topics on Machine Learning/ AI and Robotics Process Automation, where knowledge sharing is supplemented with case studies and practical demonstrations, are often well received as they result in productivity gains that can be easily seen and understood.


We recognise that digital is arguably the biggest factor that will shape the future of the accounting profession. As such, ACCA has incorporated digital applications into the content and exam delivery of the qualification. Because digital is a vital professional quotient, the ACCA Qualification ensures that our students are developed and assessed in digital issues from the very beginning of their journey all the way to membership and beyond. We have extended our computer based exams (CBEs) to include Applied Skills variant exams and are planning to introduce CBEs for our Strategic Professional exams, starting March 2020. There is also the addition of a new Data Analytics unit into our Ethics and Professional Skills module. As the world gets more interconnected, an education system that encompasses soft skills such as Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, Vision will bring forth more holistic students. These are skillsets and qualities that transcends borders.


Mark Billington, Regional Director, Gt China & South East Asia, ICAEW

In advanced economies like Singapore and the UK, the mission to inspire continuous and lifelong learning will become even more essential for educators. This has been one of the key considerations for how we develop our programmes at ICAEW. Our experts conduct regular research and consultations to assess whether the current curriculum remains relevant and useful for students of all ages and ensure that our pedagogy remains agile and balanced between knowledge-based and skill-based learning. Regardless of where they are from, students should also be encouraged to adopt an open mindset and learn universal skills that are applicable across careers, industries and countries. Some of the soft skills that we help our students acquire include communications, decision making, problem-solving and teamwork, all of which are important to navigate a fast-changing world. Educational institutes, private organisations and regulators will need to work closely together to develop a dynamic and holistic education system that will rejuvenate students’ budding minds and nurture their inquisitive thirst for knowledge.


X-Press Feeders

As a global feeder service provider, X-PRESS FEEDERS believes in providing ample opportunities for education and lifelong learning. Annually, we aim to sponsor four maritime studies tertiary students for a career at sea on our operating vessels and/or join us later on a shore based job. As part of the education sponsorship, these students receive comprehensive training in phases, acquiring a wide range of critical skills through onboard vessels training under guidance from an experience mentor.


Organizationally, X-PRESS FEEDERS recognizes the need to introduce succession planning as part of our talent management strategy. As such, employees who exhibit aptitude in leadership and excellent analytic skills will be shortlisted and offered a management trainee scheme to further their studies in London Business School. Upon their graduation, they will return to take on high level leadership roles in X-PRESS FEEDERS global offices.


Andreas Gaitzsch, ACA, Head of Learning & Development, Equiom Group

The key trend for Professional Services Companies is to provide our people with opportunities for education and learning throughout their career. We deliver line manager training with teams travelling between the UK and Singapore to promote The Equiom Way and our core values. Internationally recognised professional qualifications such as STEP are supported to enable qualified staff to benefit from diverse cultural exposure with secondments across all of our international offices. We take these opportunities seriously as the challenge is to be an ‘employer of choice’ and offer stimulating career development. It is essential that our business builds a talent pipeline across services in the ever-evolving financial markets to ensure that we are a ‘service supplier of choice’. We have also invested in having an up to date eLearning program supported by team training sessions to ensure consistency of knowledge across our +700 team in 16 jurisdictions.