Revealing a growing global digital skills crisis and the urgent need for action, a new Digital Skills Index from global CRM leader Salesforce says nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) don’t feel ‘very equipped’ to learn the digital skills needed by businesses now, and 71% don’t feel ‘very equipped’ for the future in Singapore.
Despite that, only 29% are ‘very actively’ involved in digital skills learning and training programmes today.
The Index is based on over 23,500 workers in 19 countries reporting their readiness to acquire the digital skills needed by businesses today and over the next five years.
The global digital skills gap
The digital skills gap is a concern but it also presents an opportunity. With companies around the world rapidly transitioning to digital-first models, the demand for employees with digital skills has soared.
The Salesforce Index’s overall global score for digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital upskilling, is currently only 33 out of 100, highlighting an urgent need for global investment to close the digital skills gap.
While the research highlights that certain countries feel more digitally ready than others, it is clear that all nations still have a lot of work to do. Bridging the digital divide is imperative to maintaining and improving standards of living across the globe. Only 17% of all respondents globally consider themselves ‘advanced’ in workplace digital skills while nearly half (49%) still rate themselves as ‘beginner’.
Emerging nations most confident about digital readiness
The research says respondents in emerging nations including India, Mexico, Brazil, and Thailand are more confident than those in developed nations about their digital future.
India has the Index’s highest digital readiness score (63 out of 100), where 76% of respondents feel very prepared for a digital skills-led workplace today and 72% are ‘very actively’ learning new digital skills. According to the Index, Singapore ranks seventh with a score of 35 out of 100.
RAND Europe’s recent The Global Digital Skills Gap report indicates that certain countries will be more impacted by the digital skills gap than others, depending on their economic structure, industries and labor distribution. Concerns of higher risk may be driving a bigger, faster commitment to digital education — India’s digital skills gap has the greatest GDP growth risk at an average of 2.3% every year, followed by Mexico at 1.8% GDP. The United Kingdom and Australia, on the other hand, sit at just 0.5%.
Everyday digital skills don't always translate to the workplace
Everyday skills such as social media and web navigation don’t necessarily translate to the core workplace digital skills needed by businesses to drive recovery, resilience and growth.
As per the research, in Singapore, most Gen Z and millennial respondents (84%) say they have ‘advanced’ or ‘intermediate’ social media skills — supporting the stereotype of digital mastery among the younger generation — but only 40% feel prepared for the workplace digital skills needed now.
While the vast majority of respondents in North America (83%), Europe (82%), and Asia-Pacific (70%) have ‘advanced’ or ‘intermediate’ social media skills, only a third in each (31%, 24%, and 34%, respectively) feel prepared for the workplace digital skills needed over the next five years.
Most important digital skills needed by businesses today
According to the Salesforce Index, skills in collaboration technology like Slack are viewed by Singapore respondents as the most important skills needed by businesses today and over the next five years. This is followed by digital administrative and encryption and cybersecurity skills.
Yet, less than a third of respondents in Singapore rate themselves ‘advanced’ in these skills:
- 30% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in collaboration technology skills.
- 26% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in digital administrative skills.
- 21% rate themselves ‘advanced’ in encryption and cybersecurity skills.
Reskilling the workforce
Globally, over half of all Index respondents (51%) want to learn new skills to help them grow in their current careers. This compares with 46% in Singapore. By harnessing the potential of existing workforces, businesses can speed progress towards closing skills gaps.
The Index also reveals that younger respondents in Singapore have greater confidence and ambition to learn new skills — 36% of Gen Z and millennial respondents are ‘very actively’ learning and training for skills needed over the next five years compared to 19% of respondents aged 50 and above. Businesses have a major opportunity to nurture talent by providing tailored, ‘always on’ training that will help drive growth and innovation, increase equity and engagement and create strong leaders for the future.
“The digital skills gap cannot wait. Our research shows that we still have work to do in equipping Singaporeans for the future of work, which will be pivotal to the recovery, resilience and growth of our economy,” said Sujith Abraham, senior vice president and general manager, Salesforce ASEAN.
“Businesses play a critical role in collaborating with other organisations in the ecosystem, to ensure the right kinds of training and recruitment opportunities scale up to match digital demand and reach all aspects of society equally,” he added.
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