The Importance of Upskilling and Continuous Learning

Mar 2024 - 3 min read

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Under the Jobs & Skills and the Resilience pillars of the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (RE ITM) 2025, CEA and the real estate agency industry formed the Project ADEPT (Advancing and Enhancing Professionalism and Training) workgroup to review and enhance the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) ecosystem. The aim is to ensure that real estate salespersons (RESs) are equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge to provide better quality services to their clients.

CEA will be progressively implementing eight enhancement measures to the CPD ecosystem based on recommendations by the Project ADEPT workgroup. One of the measures aims to promote a continuous learning mindset amongst RESs. To this end, CEA will collaborate with Institutes of Higher Learning and the industry associations to offer more advanced and structured courses that will help RESs work towards attaining certification in specific training areas.

In this blog post, we chat with Mr Derek Ng, Associate Senior Division Director at Huttons Asia Pte Ltd and Ms Vera Wang, Associate Group Director at PropNex Realty Pte Ltd, to find out what motivated them to pursue upskilling and continuous learning.

Why did you decide to upskill yourself?   

Derek: It is crucial to keep up with the latest developments in the real estate agency industry, especially as consumers expect higher professional standards and better service from RESs. I have benefitted from learning from my mentors and observing other real estate professionals in the industry. I also picked up useful information from various online platforms and books. While there is a lot of information out there, what I really wanted was to find a way to dissect the information so that I could apply what I learnt and ultimately, provide better advice to my clients. This set me on the path to pursue a Master of Science (MSc) in Real Estate at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in August 2021. 


Vera: Apart from having to fulfill the CPD requirements to renew my RES registration, I felt that with the real estate agency industry changing rapidly, it was important to upskill and adopt a continuous learning mindset if I wanted to provide better quality service to my clients. In 2022, after being in the industry for over eight years, I was looking for courses that would allow me to gain an in-depth understanding of the considerations behind how the Government and policy planners shaped Singapore’s landscape. This led me to sign up for the NUS Professional Certificate in Real Estate Wealth Management course. 

How have you been able to apply the skills you acquired at the course? 


Derek: Our work encompasses three key components – advisory/consultancy, execution/negotiation, and post-sales support. Within each component, we need various skillsets and knowledge on how to utilise digital tools to enhance efficiency, which I learnt through the programme. I also acquired soft skills such as time management, working with people from highly diversified backgrounds and seeing things from various stakeholders’ perspective. These skills are applicable in my work and daily life.


Vera: I am now able to understand why the Government and policy planners planned the landscape the way it is and how public policies and the outcome of these policies can affect real estate wealth. It has allowed me to explain in greater detail when making presentations to my clients. In our line of work, having the ability to gain a client’s trust is very important as we are assisting them with one of their largest purchase/sale of an asset. Having both knowledge and soft skills have helped me to provide value added services to my clients beyond the transactional work. 


How has your career benefitted from the course? 


Derek: The MSc in Real Estate helped me to dissect information and understand the various stages from legal, development to financing in real estate. Together with the real-world application, it really gave me the depth and breadth to understand and appreciate all phases of real estate and data in this highly digitalised world.   


Vera: The Professional Certificate in Real Estate Wealth Management course allowed me to level up my professionalism when serving clients as I can give a more comprehensive sharing of not just the facts and figures of a property but also the underlying factors affecting real estate wealth. 

How will these new skills help you in your future career goals?

Derek: With the skills that I have gained from the MSc in Real Estate, I hope to develop a framework that provides a more systematic approach to manage and analyse data. This will allow me to provide more holistic advice to my clients so that they in turn, can make more informed property decisions. I also hope to gain exposure in capital markets and perhaps be involved with training and research in my estate agent so that more RESs can benefit from what I have learnt.


Vera: I aim to differentiate myself from other RESs by providing comprehensive and professional services to my clients. The skills that I have picked up from the course will also hold me in good stead as I work towards building a team of professional RESs who are seen not just as salespersons but are recognised as consultants who give professional advice to clients based on their property needs. 


Are there other courses that you would like to attend in the future?


Derek: I always love to share and educate people, so I am thinking of attending the Advanced Certificate in Learning and Performance (ACLP) to understand the pedagogy in adult learning/training. This will help me to train my colleagues at my estate agent if the opportunity arises.  


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the industry and courses on how to harness its power to cover a wide spectrum of our work such as providing accurate property valuations, personalised property recommendations, enhancing visual representation of the property we are marketing to efficient lead generation will help us to serve our clients better. 


Vera: I will be looking out for courses on real estate data science, AI or real estate investment analysis and in-depth financial planning for clients. Another area that would be useful to RESs would be courses that include sharing and updates on relevant policies by government agencies such as Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB), Housing & Development Board (HDB) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA). This will help us to deliver professional and value-added services to our clients.  


Was it a challenge to work and study at the same time? How did you overcome this?


Derek: Yes, it was not easy juggling work and study, especially when I have two young children. It took a lot of prioritisation, time management, and most importantly, support from my wife and family.


Vera: The Professional Certificate in Real Estate Wealth Management course is taught in modules, which can be taken individually depending on your interest. So far, I have attended the Urban Land Use and Planning module. It was very manageable for me as it was a one-day class and I just had to set aside a day to complete it.


How do you maintain a mindset of continuous learning? Any words of encouragement for other RESs on how they can adopt a continuous learning mindset?


Derek: I would say it comes from being in an environment where everyone is keen to learn and improve. I firmly believe in a quote by Benjamin Franklin – An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. It also helps tremendously if you are part of a team that values and encourages learning. Finally, always be prepared to learn, unlearn and re-learn because change is the only constant.


Vera: With so much information available online, it is important to learn continuously to ensure that we are not left behind and can provide accurate information to our clients. An added impetus is that consumers today are very savvy and we have to ensure that as professionals, we are able to continuously add value to meet increasing consumer demand for value-added services. The day when we can no longer value add to the consumers is the day we will be replaced. We may be facing continuous challenges in our career and learning can keep us ahead of these challenges.


RESs who wish to deepen their skills and pursue continuous education in courses relevant to the real estate agency industry can explore courses such as the Professional Certificate in Real Estate Wealth Management offered by the National University of Singapore.


Information accurate as at 28 March 2024


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