Rising to the challenge

ROFINA Ahmad may have never touched a computer in her life before, but that wasn’t going to stop her from leaping at the chance to pick up new digital and computer skills in her workplace.

A housekeeper with Capri by Fraser at China Square, Rofina had been working at the hotel for over a year when she was informed that she would be undergoing the Job Redesign Reskilling Programme for Hotel Industry (previously known as Job Redesign Place-and-Train Programme for Hotel Industry).

This was one of the reskilling programmes rolled out by Workforce Singapore as part of the COVID-19 support measures for businesses and workers. It serves to minimise potential retrenchment and ensure that the hard-hit tourism sector will have the skilled manpower it needs to meet business demand when it returns.

To improve staff productivity and efficiency, Capri had adopted the radio-frequency identification (RFID) system for its Linen department, and Rofina’s job redesign meant having to undergo training in two new roles – Linen Runner and Linen Attendant – and acquire computer skills such as uploading RFID data.

“My original job scope as a housekeeper was to deliver items to guests’ rooms, top up their pantries weekly, ensure high levels of sanitation in guests’ rooms and cleanliness of high-touch points.

“When my manager told me that I would be undergoing training, I felt so happy – the company appreciates my contribution and trusts me with more responsibilities. I was excited and looked forward to see what new things I would be learning!” the 58-year-old recalled.

For three months, Rofina learnt the ropes which included logging into the RFID system to scan the linen, uploading the information to a computer to generate reports and downloading a soft copy of the reports for filing and record purposes.

Rofina Ahmad operating the RFID system at Capri by Fraser at China Square

No mean feat… Rofina has come a long way and now navigates the RFID system with ease.

She also mastered the Microsoft Excel programme to help her tally the list of guests’ laundry against the physical item count, check for and record defects in guests’ laundry, and tabulate and key the total cost of laundry services to coordinate with her front office colleagues when they bill the guests.

As her new roles meant greater interaction with colleagues from other departments as well as the external laundry vendor, Rofina had to learn how to manage her time well too.

The entire process was not easy and initially, Rofina found herself walking around the office singing “all kinds of songs” to relieve her stress.

However, the plucky senior remained undaunted and over time, mastered the technology with her colleagues’ help.

“My manager and colleagues were very patient in guiding and coaching me step-by-step to operate the computer; they were always ready to help me when I was stuck,” Rofina shared with a laugh, adding that she felt a sense of satisfaction and achievement after gaining proficiency in her new skills.

Rofina Ahmad updating databases and printing reports from a computer

Hard work and perseverance paid off… updating databases and printing reports from a computer no longer fazes Rofina.

When another opportunity presented itself to Rofina – this time to upgrade her customer service and communication skills – as part of a three-day Art of Service course offered by SHATEC (the Singapore Hotel Association’s training centre), the bubbly senior seized it.

“I am motivated when I get to learn new things. Age is just a number and most importantly, we must not stop learning. We must continue to upgrade ourselves when opportunities arise,” Rofina said.

Besides working full-time, the avid learner and youngest of five children is also caregiver to her mother, who lives with her, and enjoys watching movies online in her free time.

Rofina’s advice to peers who are undergoing job redesign and reskilling training is: “Enjoy the learning process. Have an open mind to explore because it will enhance your skill sets and knowledge. Nothing is impossible if you are willing to put your heart in it. My motto at work is: Be flexible, stay focused, act fast, treat everyone fairly and last but not least – have fun!”

Article published on 29/11/2021