SINGAPORE - Wrestling with paperwork is not something you would expect when taking on a job as a guide in the Singapore Zoo.
While a love for animals and enjoying interacting with strangers are key requirements, Ms Julia Chow found herself struggling with the document shuffling that came with the job.
While she enjoyed showing visitors around the zoo and handling animals, the 30-year-old was not a big fan of drawing up budget reports. "It was tedious. I did not like doing math and accounting."
Without any formal training in tourism, she had worked her way up the ranks in the zoo after leaving her desk job as a corporate support officer to join as a part-time guide in 2009.
By 2010, she was doing so well that the company hired her full time and put her in charge of all the tours. This meant that as well as conducting tours, she also had to plan the itineraries, train and manage the employees under her and work on budgets.
To do her job better, she took a Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Diploma course in tourism. The one-year course taught her management skills, public speaking techniques and accounting principles.
"I also learnt how to do the accounts on Excel. Now I can hand in my reports on time."
The course also benefitted the part-time guides working under Ms Chow. Previously, new staff were left to study on their own before they were given tests. But there was no proper training plan and the new employees took up to 21/2 months to learn the ropes.
After the course, Ms Chow drew up a structured plan that set out clear targets on what they should learn for each tests.
"Now, they usually pass the tests within two months."
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