The constant evolution of technology has changed the nature of work for most, if not all industries. It is imperative for any organisation’s survival to invest in continuous training and development so as to ensure that their employees are equipped with the relevant skills to meet the present and future needs of their industry. One of the biggest proponent for embracing the digital mind-set has been the Singapore Government with the push for Singapore to become a Smart Nation and up-scaling Singaporeans to deal with the new economy.
This tidal wave of change has already washed onto the shores of the real estate industry. For instance, the advent of Prop Tech has profound effect on the day-to-day role for people within property management.
Paperless billing has replaced the manual tasks of printing, folding and post-mailing the hardcopy invoices to individual tenants. This fundamentally changed the traditional way of working/practice within the industry for years, creating efficiency and redirecting valuable man-hours of the property accountants to work on value-added tasks for clients.
Online web-based management reporting has removed the transposition of data from one hard source to another, reducing manual administrative labour in data collection and retrieval; but more crucially, allow property managers to have all the information ready and actionable at their fingertips.
To invest in training people with new technology and with new skillsets, thus become a competitive advantage and a key differentiator between companies – those who invest in their people and those who neglect to do so.
Lack of good talent on the ground, resulting in lapses in service offering. Although there is no shortage of accredited bodies in the market, many of them are focused on implementing accreditation requirements at the corporate level; less emphasis is given to provide training at the individual employee level. People carrying out the operations are not necessarily equipped with the necessary skillset to meet the service level standard and rising market expectations. This gap was, in fact, acknowledged in the article entitled “Boasting Standards of Condo Management[i]” which was published in the Straits Times on August 19 2016. It was picked up again as a key talking point in a joint release titled “Raising Standards in Property Management” by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and the Singapore Productivity and Standards Board.
A culture of lifelong learning as a government directive. In recognizing the need for training as a necessary bridge to address talent shortfall and talent retention in the marketplace, the Singapore Government has in place grants for Singaporeans to take up skills upgrading courses. Known as SkillsFuture Credit, the $500 grant is disbursed to Singaporeans who are 25 years old and above to spend on education and training courses provided by Institutes of Higher Learning and accredited education and training providers[ii]. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say reinforced the message in his recent 2017 address at a graduation ceremony for Republic Polytechnic (RP) students, “Employment could rise, not because of a shortage of jobs, but because of a shortage of skills[iii]”
Training as an investment. Property Management has traditionally been associated with the nuts and bolts of building maintenance. Beyond the technical know-how and the building management efficiencies powered by technology, the essential skillset missing in some front office crew is the lack of soft skills. This can turn out to be the weakest link in maintaining a good relationship with landlords and tenants. Telephone etiquette, handling customer complaints and being able to understand behavioural styles is critical in building up strong relations with a tenant. The pressure on property management professionals will increase as demands and expectations take on a higher level of sophistication. The breadth and scope of training and upgrading of such professionals has to evolve.
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