Getting Started

 

Careers in Adult Education

When people think of adult education, the picture that most readily comes to mind is that of a trainer in areas such as soft skills and technical skills. But the adult education landscape is far wider than that, occupied by different professionals playing different roles.


Adult Educator

The adult educator (AE) delivers more than just training. An AE can also perform tasks which relate to the direct activities of development and training for the continuing education and training (CET) of the workforce. These may include learning needs analysis, design, development, facilitation and assessment. While many adult educators often operate on a freelance basis, many of them are engaged by training organisations across all the different industries.


Training Management Professional

The core business functions in training organisations are typically managed by training management professionals. These functions include the management of programmes, curriculum, assessment, training resources, manpower, learning systems, quality assurance, compliance and administration.


Human Capital Management Professional

Closely related to the AE role is that of the human capital management professional. This role typically exists in organisations or is held by independent consultants, and relates to the conceptualisation and implementation of holistic human resource development and management interventions to help organisations better respond to changing workplace demands and improve performance.

Which role or roles do you play?

 

The Adult Education Landscape


Where there is work, there is a need for continuing education and training (CET), and a need for CET professionals like those mentioned above. The adult education landscape spans across all industries you can think of, from the larger ones like retail to the niche ones like pharmaceuticals.

Here are snapshots of the more common industry sectors, and what the CET outlook is like within each sector.

  1. Finance
  2. Food and Beverages
  3. Hospitality
  4. Information Technology
  5. Logistics
  6. Manufacturing
  7. Retail


Common in CET throughout many of the industry sectors above are essential skills and knowledge, such as customer service, leadership and problem-solving, as well as workplace safety and health. Here is a look at the CET landscape in these two areas.

  1. Essential Skills
  2. Workplace Safety and Health


The CET landscape is constantly evolving in tandem with the economy. It is vital that CET professionals continue to stay in touch with what is happening in their industries.

 

The Training and Adult Education WSQ Framework


Training and Adult Education (TAE) Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) framework

To support the Continuing Education and training (CET) needs of the different industries in Singapore, the TAE WSQ Framework was developed by what was formerly Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to raise the capabilities and professionalism of CET professionals. Five key competencies have been identified in this framework:

  • Human resource development
    • Identify skills gaps to meet individuals’ and business organisations’ needs in a competitive environment
       
  • Learning design and development
    • Design and develop learning (or instructional) plan for facilitated, workplace-based and technology-enabled training programmes
       
  • Delivery and assessment
    • Develop learning solutions to produce desired outcomes, measured via assessment processes.
       
  • Evaluation and research
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of a training programme or event to enhance current and future learning by gathering, analysing and interpreting data to make evidence-informed decisions
       
  • Policy, system and capabilities development for CET
    • Develop and facilitate workforce skills upgrading through engaging stakeholders, and understand foundational principles underpinning the WSQ system


Under this framework, the following WSQ programmes are available to qualify AE and CET professionals to perform the roles of WSQ Trainer, Assessor and Curriculum Developer.

Who WSQ trainer and assessor (in-house) WSQ trainer and assessor (public) WSQ curriculum developer

Role

To train and assess internal staff

To train and assess public WSQ programmes

To develop WSQ programmes

Programme

Workplace Trainer Programme

Advanced Certificate in Training and Assessment

Diploma in Adult and Continuing Education

For more information on the TAE WSQ Framework, please click here

WSQ Adult Educators’ Qualification Requirements

Adult educators (AEs) who are engaged by WSQ Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) will have to comply with the WSQ Adult Educators’ Qualification Requirements as shown in the table below:

WSQ AE Role Public WSQ ATO In-House WSQ ATO

WSQ Trainer and/or Assessor

At least 80% with ACTA qualification or equivalent

At least 80% with WTP qualification or equivalent

WSQ Curriculum Developer

100% with DACE qualification or equivalent

At least one must attain ACTA qualification or equivalent

WSQ Master Trainer (applicable for in-house WSQ ATO only)

Not applicable

At least one WSQ master trainer with ACTA qualification or equivalent

For more information, please refer to this link

 

Training and Adult Education Professional Competency Model (TAEPCM)


Now that you understand a little more about the requirements in becoming an adult educator (AE) in the continuing education and training (CET) landscape in Singapore, it’s time to chart a development roadmap for yourself as you begin your professional journey ahead. You can do this by using the Training and Adult Education Professional Competency Model (TAEPCM), which outlines the means to cultivate both inter-functional and intra-functional skills to help you move up the career ladder within different job roles, and plan your route towards alternate job roles within and across the training and adult education (TAE) landscape.

The TAEPCM is a framework co-developed by IAL, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), Workforce Singapore (WSG) and strategic stakeholders in the CET industry.

The TAEPCM seeks to:

  1. Nurture a more inclusive CET professional community with the acknowledgement and recognition of integral job roles and competencies within the CET landscape.
  2. Empower CET professionals to better navigate and plan their career trajectory and professional development.
  3. Recognise the value CET professionals bring to the industry as the demands of each job role are made evident.


The TAEPCM recognises that CET professionals often take on multiple job roles and recommends a suite of vertical and horizontal competencies to:

  • Deepen specialisation (intra-mobility)
  • Prepare for alternate CET careers (inter-mobility)


Hop on now to the TAEPCM.

 

Becoming a Freelance Adult Educator

Who is the freelance Adult Educator?

A freelance adult educator (AE) is someone who has the flexibility and autonomy to undertake different work assignments related to training and adult education (TAE). The nature and demand of assignments are influenced by many factors, including:

  • The products and services the freelance AE can offer
  • Clients’ requirements and expectations
  • Economic conditions (eg. industry outlook)
  • Government policies (eg. SkillsFuture initiative, new regulations)


Tasks are typically assignment or project-based with one or multiple clients. Remuneration is typically paid on an hourly or project basis.

 

Why become a freelance Adult Educator?

The reasons why one becomes a freelance AE vary from individual to individual. Some may be driven by the passion for developing others. Others may already be doing some form of AE work and see freelancing as a natural progression, as they have networks and ready assignments at hand.

Regardless of the motivations, it is important to know the realities of freelance AE work and its challenges. The most important requirement in starting a freelance AE career is having domain expertise (eg. manufacturing, healthcare, soft skills) that you are confident in, and which you know there will be a demand for. If you are completely new to TAE without any clear domain expertise to base your products or services on, the journey ahead may be challenging.


What does a freelance Adult Educator do?

A freelance AE may be involved in jobs or assignments that relate directly or indirectly to the development of the workforce.  Areas of work may include:

  • Learning-related analysis of an organisation, industry, job role, work environment and practices, and learners
  • Design, development and review of learning interventions (e.g. classroom learning, workplace learning, technology-enabled learning)
  • Facilitation and assessment of learning
  • Evaluation of learning effectiveness


The level of engagement in these activities is dependent on your unique expertise, products and services, networks, referrals as well as industry demand.


What roles does a freelance Adult Educator typically take on?

Typical roles that freelance AEs take on include workplace trainer, trainer, learning facilitator, assessor, instructional designer, courseware developer, curriculum developer, consultant, human capital management specialist and organisational development specialist. You can find out more about these roles here.


What does it take to be a freelance Adult Educator?

You may be entering this profession purposefully, intending to craft a sustainable career or business out of TAE, or are perhaps just trying out opportunities in doing work related to TAE.  As part of your exploration, it is important that you consider your value proposition, past work experiences and activities, areas that you like and dislike, and have a clear understanding of your personal attributes, values, interests, abilities and requirements in becoming a freelance AE.  Having an awareness of what you can offer and how you position your product and services, as well as your professional identity and unique branding, will form a good starting point.

Here is a diagnostic tool to help you consider your possible next steps:

 

Life as a Freelance AE


The work of a freelance AE can be multi-faceted and the journey of each AE is unique. Some may find their footing in training-related work, while some may thrive in technology-enabled learning.

Here are four short videos where you can take a peek at a typical day in the life of a freelance AE.  Hear their stories on how they establish themselves in as an adult educator. We hope that the sharing can provide some insights into the triumphs and challenges of being a freelance AE.

Want more? Here are three more accounts by real freelance AEs. The identities of two of them have been changed to protect their privacy. 

Daryll Hoe, Facilitator/Developer

Security Industry Institute

Hi, my name is Daryll and I am a freelance Adult Educator (AE). Prior to this, I was a police officer for 20 years.

Being in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) allowed me to interact with people from various walks of life. This made the job interesting. However, it required me to work long irregular hours. By the time I ended my work, I felt tired and did not feel like pursuing other interests. 
 

Sally (This is an alias)

Her identity has been changed to protect her privacy.

Sally lived overseas and worked in a law firm for a while before moving back to Singapore and getting an administrative job at a training organization. As she interacted more with people involved in training, she felt the desire to be involved. At that point in her life, she wanted more from her career. She wanted to work in an area that she was passionate about, and do something more purposeful. Taking the courage, she dived into freelance training, offering training in communication and team building.
 

Francis (This is an alias)

His identity has been changed to protect his privacy.

Francis started his career as an engineer but felt that it wasn’t his calling after 15 years.  He decided to make a career change and ventured into Human Resources (HR) for 3 years, after attaining a Masters in Human Resource offered by George Washington University.  While working full time in HR, he provided pro-bono services during the evenings and weekends to gain exposure to freelance training. Eventually, he came out on his own and started freelance work in action learning.  Francis found the first 6 months tough. He had enough savings to see him through the period without any work, but he had to live on a tight budget.
 

 

Resources and Tools for Freelance Adult Educators


Freelance AE Career Advisory Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Through research carried out over the years by IAL on what it takes to be a successful freelance AE, we have discovered a few key ingredients. We have used them to create an AE Career Advisory self-assessment questionnaire. This questionnaire prompts you to think about what products and services you can offer, the type of clients and assignments you will probably have access to, and make plans to mitigate potential challenges.

It takes about 10 minutes to complete this self-assessment questionnaire and a report will be generated after completion.

Click here to take the questionnaire.


Career Resilience Profiling Tool

In a volatile, complex and ambiguous environment, it is important to build your ability to thrive in the face of adverse situations. The career resilience profiling tool is designed for you to have a better understanding of your ability to manage your own career and negotiate the future ahead.

Although this tool is generic, it is a useful exercise for you to get a sense of how resilient you are in the face of uncertainty.
It takes about 15 minutes to complete this profiling tool and a report will be generated after completion.

Click here to take the profiling tool.

AE Career Advisory Service

Without any personal contacts or networks in the training and adult education (TAE) domain, it may be challenging to establish yourself as a freelance AE. The IAL AE Career Advisor service is a free service manned by actual freelance AEs who can provide some career guidance.

The service aims to help:

  • Prospective freelance AEs make informed decisions before joining the AE community
  • New freelance AEs identify concrete actions to kick start their AE career
  • Established AEs explore new avenues to widen or deepen their craft


Please note however that this service does not:

  • help you to find job assignments (at IAL or elsewhere)
  • have a physical office (advisory services are done through email or telephone)


Write in to aeca@ial.edu.sg if you need advice!


Useful Links

The following are some links that relate to freelancers in general:


Self-Care

During times of transition, one may feel anxious or stressed out and face difficulties in making adjustments. To help cope with such stresses, the National Healthcare Group Polyclinics has made available online a list of simple and easy-to-use stress reduction methods.

For more information on health-related topics, the Health Promotion Board website provides articles and readings on topics such as chronic disease, healthy living, mental health, workplace health and many more.

 

Networks and Initiatives for Freelance Adult Educators

Adult Education Network (AEN)

The Adult Education Network (AEN) is a professional membership scheme of IAL that targets the professionalisation and continual skill development of the training and adult education (TAE) professionals.  AEN seeks to foster a competent, vibrant and dynamic TAE community by offering Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programmes and events that are aligned to the Training and Adult Education Professional Competency Model (TAEPCM).  It also encourages pedagogical innovation and collaboration through networking, business and project opportunities. 

The benefits and privileges of being an AEN member include:

  • Special interest group (SIG) activities
  • Continuing professional development programmes & events
  • Job & business opportunities
  • Access to IAL library & online resources


For more information, please refer to AEN benefits. You can also join the AEN LinkedIn group.

 

AE Professionalisation

The Adult Education Professionalisation (AEP) is aimed at creating a strong, dynamic and forward-looking AE profession in Singapore. AEP aims to advance the professional standards and identity of AEs as professionals recognised for both pedagogical and professional excellence. As a new establishing freelance AE, AEP can serve as a milestone for you to work towards. For more information, click here.