93 percent of employers in Singapore agree that sending their workers for training will help their businesses to develop stronger resilience during the pandemic downturn, according to the findings of the latest NTUC LearningHub Employer Skills Survey. And 62 percent are already doing so or planning to do so, with businesses in more severely affected industries such as tourism and aviation significantly more likely to implement such training.
The survey, which was conducted in February 2021, found that the skills most in demand have changed over the course of the last year. The top skills most desired by employers today are heavily weighted towards managing interactions and relationships, with effective communication, teamwork, leadership, and negotiation and influencing taking the top spots across all industries. In contrast, skills such as innovation, creativity, and service excellence have lost popularity since 2020. While the survey did not explore why this might be the case, the difficulty of enabling teamwork and collaborative work in a virtual working environment may have contributed to employers' decisions.
Unsurprisingly, employers tended to prioritize improving the soft skills and adaptive skills of their workforce, alongside improving the technical skills related to employees' roles. They also responded that they want to equip employees with more digital skills, although the response was comparatively lukewarm—for example, 68 percent of employers had effective communication, the most popular soft skill, on their wish list, but digital marketing, the most popular digital skill, scored only 50 percent.
NTUC LearningHub has indicated that it would prefer more employers to actively pursue upskilling of their workforce. Director of Technical Skills Product Division Tay Ee Learn said: “While many employers see the value of skills training, there is a mismatch in the action taken to upskill their workforce. We observe that this is often due to the lack of awareness of training support available or that employers simply do not know where to start.”
Tay recommended that companies look into different training approaches to address challenges such as time constraints or lack of learning resources, and that employers can also look into the multiple government-supported schemes available to finance their training efforts.