After 150 Job Applications, Here’s How Upskilling Enabled A Successful Mid-Career Switch

02 Feb 2021 Posted in ⟨Stories⟩

Previously a Marine System Engineer with the defence sector, Zegna Zheng, 28, met with many obstacles when he decided to pursue a career in Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) in the private sector. Not one to give up, here’s how he turned things around by upskilling to become a Safety Coordinator at a large multinational company today.

Making a career decision to switch industries is never an easy one, especially in a job market affected by COVID-19. However, that was precisely what Zegna did.

Starting his career as a regular in the defence sector, his role as a Marine System Engineer required him to operate machinery and spot defects. That was also how he quickly realised he had an interest in WSH.

“I was a part of the safety community team in my unit where it was my responsibility to identify hazards, investigate accidents and implement control measures to prevent recurrence. There were many opportunities given to me by my superior to explore the various aspects of Workplace Safety and Health. It was then that I realised I liked how meaningful and fruitful the work can be.”

Having spent over five years with the defence sector, Zegna was ready to leave the public service to pursue opportunities in the private sector. His passion for WSH made it clear that this was potentially the right path to pursue.

“At the back of my mind, I have always made plans to leave the defence sector, but I was not sure what I could do with my skill sets. Upon hearing about my interests in Workplace Safety and Health, my circle of friends were very encouraging and urged me to pursue this career path.”

“That was how I was introduced to Jeremy Lee.”

An Ally That Changed Everything

With work in the defence sector keeping him busy on weekdays, Zegna only had weekends to look for relevant WSH courses to prepare for the next chapter of his career. Upon hearing about his learning schedule limitations, a close friend passed him the contact of NTUC Course Consultant Jeremy Lee.

“Jeremy is perhaps the most significant person in my upskilling journey. He made my life such a breeze, recommending me relevant courses to take, and helping me to book slots for the courses I want online.”

“Even when I message him questions on some of the courses that I want to take on weekends, he was very kind to address all of them quickly. If it was not for Jeremy, I wouldn’t have such a smooth learning experience.”

With Jeremy’s help, Zegna took more than 17 courses in a span of six months. Some of these courses include Safe Management Officers Course For ConstructionManage WSH Risks, and WSQ Specialist Diploma in WSH (Construction Industry).

NTUC LearningHub provides a good range of WSH courses. More importantly, the lecturers were very helpful and engaging. No matter how many questions I ask, they will take the time to make sure that all of my queries were answered. They shared real-life anecdotes, which gave me a great insight into what I can expect when I take on a career in this industry.

“I could also use my Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) to subsidise the courses I enrolled in as I am below 30 years of age, which was a great help for me financially.”

Trudging on in the Face of Rejection

Looking for opportunities in the private sector in a pandemic-impacted market proved to be more challenging than Zegna expected.

“I applied for over 150 jobs, but many companies in the private sector did not recognise my work experience in the defence sector, even if they found it relevant. They only considered me for entry-level positions, which was a little discouraging.”

In the face of multiple rejections, Zegna chose to continue his upskilling journey by taking more WSH courses that eventually provided him with the edge he needed to stand out from other job applicants.

Now a Safety Coordinator with Nam Lee Pressed Metal, Zegna reflects on his upskilling journey.

“I am glad that despite the odds, I chose to take the first step to pursue a different career path. Learning is never-ending, and the skills and knowledge you take away from it will be something that stays with you forever. Don’t live life wondering about the what-ifs – be courageous and take the first step.”

Since 2004, NTUC LearningHub has upskilled over 21,000 organisations and achieved over 2.5 million training places across more than 500 courses with a pool of over 400 certified trainers. We are the leading Continuing Education and Training provider in Singapore and we are here to transform your lifelong employability.

For more information on how we can help, visit our Virtual Roadshow or talk to our friendly Course Consultants by reserving a Virtual Live Advisory appointment today.

For Learners

For Learners
17 Apr 2020

New Decade, New Trends: Five Skills That Will Propel Careers to Greater Heights

View details


25 Oct 2021

Inspiring The Habit of Learning: NTUC LearningHub x SkillsFuture Month 2021

View details
21 Sep 2021

She Took 20 Courses Over 7 Months While Pursuing A Part-time Masters – Here’s Why!

View details
14 Aug 2021

From Business To Project Management, and Now Tech: Meet The Lady Who Doesn’t Stop Learning

View details