Balancing Upskilling with Work: How Perseverance Pays Off

25 Nov 2020 Posted in ⟨Stories⟩

Wanting to break out of the grind working as a private hire driver, NTUC LearningHub (NTUC LHUB) trainee Donovan Sim bravely stepped out of his comfort zone to upgrade himself. He took up the challenge of juggling both work and training in stride, and his bold, knowledge-hungry attitude not only gave him the certifications to land him his first job, but serves as a true inspiration to others.

As a Safety Coordinator in a construction consultancy firm, 23-year-old Donovan Sim’s responsibilities include ensuring site safety by conducting risk assessments and safety briefings. But Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) had not always been his intended career path, as it was not long ago when Donovan could be found journeying Singapore’s roads as a private hire driver. For this young entrant to the workforce, his road to becoming a Safety Coordinator has been filled with unique challenges.

It all began when Donovan dropped out of polytechnic, after losing interest with his studies in business I.T. Unsure of what to do after completing his National Service, he took up work driving with Singapore’s largest ride-hailing platform for a few months.

“It was quite fun because you get to meet different types of people every day, but it is a tough and tiring job as you have to just focus on the road all the time,” shared Donovan. Eager for a change, he made the determined decision to upskill and charted his learning journey ahead.

Striking a Balance

Donovan’s first introduction to NTUC LHUB came from a friend, who recommended the courses as something that might benefit him in the future. He went ahead to do some closer research, contemplating which will be the best course of action for him.

“I went to look up further and I was thinking, maybe I could join the construction industry with a WSH certificate. I asked a few friends who happen to be in the industry, and they told me it was a good course and recommended taking it under NTUC LHUB as it was a reputable brand,” shared Donovan.

And so his journey began, with his days now filled with attending in-classroom lessons three days a week, driving to maintain his source of income, and even browsing job opportunities in the meantime.

“I woke up at 6am in the morning. I would drive until dinner, then after dinner I would head down for my lessons which were from 7pm to 10pm. That’s how I managed for 3 days a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For the rest of the days, I could continue doing my job,” he described.

Noticing how he could mould his flexible working hours to fit his part-time class schedule, he did not stop at just one course, enrolling and completing quite a number of WSH-related courses ranging from Occupational First Aid to Food and Beverage Safety.

Supported by knowledgeable trainers who shared their real-world experience and insights in the current industry, Donovan not only went away with useful knowledge but new connections as well.

“The most memorable experience for me is actually making new friends with my coursemates. Through the various assignments and team projects during the course, we bonded and got to know each other better,” he said.

NTUC LearningHub is reputable and recognised, and the whole process of taking up courses was a very hassle-free experience.


The Start of Something New

Eager to break into the WSH industry, Donovan started job hunting even before he completed his training to gain a head start on his new career. With a bit of luck, paired with the credibility of his new certifications, he was offered his first job right after attaining his WSQ Advanced Certificate in Workplace Safety and Health.

“Having NTUC LHUB certificates definitely made an impact because not all WSH certificates are recognised by companies. Of course, NTUC LHUB is a reputable household name so more companies recognise certificates from them over other training providers. It did help to have it on my resume!” said Donovan.

While he initially struggled to embrace his fresh start, Donovan was determined to succeed. “Starting out was tough because I had zero experience. It was challenging because safety-wise, accidents can happen at any time, so I was afraid of that. As time went by, I started to pick up new skills and apply them to my worksite, and after a few months I started getting used to it,” Donovan reflected.

He managed to learn the ropes and started to incorporate the lessons he picked up into his daily work life, such as the proper way to use a safety harness from his Manage Work at Height course.

“Some things like regulations and rules aren’t taught in secondary school or polytechnic. These are all taught during the courses, and I am not only able to apply them to my current work but to share and raise awareness among the workers, briefing them about the important rules to follow,” he said.

As time went on, he adapted to his role and was able to transition smoothly into his new career path. “I’m actually very lucky to have met my current boss. He was willing to give me an opportunity to learn. My colleagues also taught and mentored me, which helped make up for my lack of experience,” said Donovan.

Forging Ahead in WSH

With one year of experience in his role as a Safety Coordinator under his belt, Donovan has since grown accustomed to the demands of his job. Armed with his foundation of knowledge from his training and eagerness to learn, he finds himself more than capable of handling situations that arise during work confidently.

However, his self-development journey is far from over, as Donovan hopes to level up his knowledge even further by taking more courses such as WSQ Specialist Diploma in WSH and working in Confined Spaces.

But now, with a full-time job, finding the time to attend courses becomes the biggest barrier to learning. While he hopes to find time to upskill again, Donovan is happy to share that he has found his calling in WSH. He sees himself working in the WSH industry for a long time to come, rising the ranks to positions such as Safety Auditor or Manager one day.

Looking back, choosing to study part-time while working as a private hire driver was a decision Donovan does not regret. His advice for others who might be hesitant to take up this challenge?

“Have an open mind, don’t be afraid to try something you have never heard of and don’t trap yourself inside the box,” encouraged Donovan. “If you don’t know anything or if you are not sure, just ask to find out more!”

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.

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